Lynchburg's Moran flirts with no-hitter
The Braves prospect allowed just one hit over eight innings in his second start for Class A Advanced Lynchburg, helping the Hillcats to a 9-0 rout of Kinston on Tuesday.
Moran (1-0) struck out eight, including seven of nine at one point, without issuing a walk in his first Carolina League win.
"I had three out of my four pitches working for me," he said. "My change-up, I kind of went away from it later in the game. I was using the cut fastball all game long, and the two-seamer and curveball. I was throwing strikes with all three, and I was able to keep them off balance. Whenever I got behind in the count, I threw sinkers on the outside corner and had them drive it into the ground."
The 26-year-old right-hander faced just two batters over the minimum in his eight innings. Jeremie Tice reached on a fielding error by second baseman Philip Gosselin to lead off the second, then hit a two-out single off the glove of shortstop Andrelton Simmons in the seventh to spoil the no-hitter.
"They started swinging early because I was pounding fastballs away," Moran said of Tice's base hit. "The first pitch, I threw a cut fastball away. It was a ball. I threw another one, and I was trying to get it off the plate because I knew he was diving out of the zone. I just didn't get it off. I was a little disappointed in myself, but it all worked out in the end."
Moran excelled at keeping the ball in the infield, generating 12 ground-ball outs and only two flyouts. On the year, he has a 2.87 groundout-to-flyout ratio across two levels.
"That's what my game is," Moran said. "Keeping the ball down in the zone and putting it on the ground. I've done that my whole life. That's what kind of a pitcher I am. When push comes to shove, the pitch I'm going to throw is a two-seamer down in the zone and make them put it in play. When they're putting the ball in the air, I know I'm not doing my job -- I know I'm not throwing like myself. Getting ground balls is something I strive for every game, and I let my defense do the job."
A 41st-round pick in 2009, Moran was promoted to Lynchburg after going 4-1 with a 3.50 ERA in nine games -- six starts -- for Class A Rome. He has yet to allow an earned run in 14 Carolina League innings.
"I haven't even had time to think about higher levels," Moran said. "I had one day [with the team], then I was thrown right in the mix. I felt like it was a compliment to me, and I'm excited for the challenge ahead. I'm excited to show what I can do."
Moran, who has appeared in 34 Minor League games, called Tuesday's outing his best.
"This is probably, hands down, my best pro start," he said. "One hit in eight innings, being able to keep them hitless to the seventh. I was really excited. This game really just shows me that I can throw at higher levels, and it gives me hope for the future. This is definitely my best start and I'm just really glad I got to do it here in High A."
Leading the Hillcats' offense was Gosselin, who went 2-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs. L.V. Ware also homered for Lynchburg, driving in three.
David Heck is a contributor to MLB.com.