Max Moroff started his month of June by getting promoted to the big leagues, possibly for good this time. He was promoted for a brief time during the month of May, but only for a short amount of time to cover injuries. During the rest of his time in May, he was crushing Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .304/.446/.671 line with eight homers, earning him a return trip to the majors. It also earned him the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month award for May.
Moroff has been putting up impressive numbers this year in Triple-A, posting a .269/.385/.569 line with 13 homers in his first two months of play. The 13 homers easily sets a new career high for him, passing his previous high of eight homers in 2013 and 2016. The impressive thing is that Moroff’s increase in power still comes with a strong OBP, and a decent average. His walk and strikeout rates have stayed consistent with last year’s performance in Triple-A, but his ISO has gone from a previous career high of .119 to .300 this year.
There has always been power potential with Moroff. There has always been the ability to get on base. And there has always been the ability to hit for average. But those three things haven’t always come together at the same time. He would often get too selective at the plate, leading to higher walks and decent power, but a low average as he passed on better pitches to hit. He started getting aggressive early in the count in Altoona, and was able to do all three things, although there was a feeling that there was more power in his game. He moved to Indianapolis last year and abandoned the approach that worked for him in Altoona, but has it back this year.
Now Moroff will get a chance to show he belongs in the majors. The Pirates designated Alen Hanson and optioned Gift Ngoepe in order to bring him up, which is a sign that this is more permanent than before, and not a move based on short-term injuries. If he can carry some of his power up to the big leagues, while also showing an ability to get on base at a good rate, then he could have a long-term spot on the Pirates’ bench as a utility infielder.
PLAYERS OF THE MONTH BY LEVEL
Indianapolis – Max Moroff, 2B (.304/.446/.671, 100 PA, 8 HR)
Altoona – Jordan Luplow, LF (.373/.478/.613, 90 PA, 3 HR)
Bradenton – Cole Tucker, SS (.304/.391/.545, 129 PA, 4 HR)
West Virginia – Clark Eagan, RF (.313/.356/.494, 90 PA, 3 HR)