Max Moroff is the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month for May

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.


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)

  • How many names of current players in the minors could be substituted for Moroff in this sentence: “If __________ 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.” That would be great trivia question. No mention of defense.

  • I have difficulty seeing where this fellow fits on this team other than the occasional start and late inning fill in. Difficult to get much excited about that. The team simply has too many of this guy unless they are planning to unload Freese at the deadline. I assume Jaso will take starts away from this guy — for some reason. Hopefully they can find a taker for him.

    • I think his role is primarily going to be as a pinch hitter, nothing more (with the occasional double switch to stay in the game and even less occasional spot start).

    • I know there’s still about 100 games to go, but I haven’t seen anything that tells me this team can win consistently with this mix of guys. I’d like to see them turnover some of the vets and get guys like Moroff and Osuna more regular ABs. We could sell high on Freese and play Max at 3B, or 2B with JHey playing 3rd. I would also look to move Jaso and one of our veteran catchers.

  • I see either Kevin Newman or Cole Tucker being traded. If Cole shows what he is doing now with hitting and steals i think it will be Newman

    • I don’t think Moroff will be taking a regular spot at SS. Don’t see him in the mix as Mercer’s long term replacement. Why trade either Newman or Tucker? If that happens, it’ll be a long time coming.

  • “Now Moroff will get a chance to show he belongs in the majors.” What gives you that impression? Yeah just like Hanson got a chance by pitch running and hitting. CH will fix him to the bench and he will not give him a chance, as he is a rookie and they don’t deserve to play in his eyes, unless forced to by injuries. Now with JHay and Mercer hitting, he will sit until they decide he is not the answer and send him back down. Hopefully this time they have options on him and they will not lose him for nothing.

    • I disagree. Hurdle just plain disliked Hanson – that was clear from the time he came up last year. Moroff came up earlier this year for 3 games – CH started him in 2 games and he hit twice in the 3rd game – I think 1 for 9. If I was a middle infielder already on the team, and starving for PT, I would have taken that negatively. I would not doubt that was part of CH’s intent.

      Moroff has had some excellent offensive numbers, but, like all of the other AAAA MI’s, he cannot steal a base. Moroff has also logged 13 errors so far in AAA, 9 at SS, but he fielded very well at 2B in 2016.

      Whether Hanson or someone else, that person is short-term at best because Mercer, JHay, and Freese are still there, and Newman will be up to take 2B opposite Mercer while he gets himself situated with the speed at the MLB level. Now that we have started to separate the pepper from the fly sh-t, I expect Newman to move up to AAA and Tucker has shown he will not be too far behind.

    • Or, he will sabotage his development employing the every three game rotation like he did earlier this year so he can get Gosslin regular ABs.

  • What’s the story on Clark Eagan? I went to his write up and it wasn’t exactly glowing. Which is fine. I’m not expecting to read about a player with Austin Meadows’ potential taken in the 9th round like Eagan was. Is he someone to watch or is he just doing what he’s supposed to be doing for someone 22 in Low A?

    • John Dreker
      June 5, 2017 2:39 pm

      Eagan doesn’t have any standout tools, so it’s tough to say something like his speed and defense should get him a chance, or his bat will get him to the majors. He’s a solid player, but you’re talking about someone from a major college with a .717 OPS in Low-A the year after he is drafted. Add in the lack of any plus tools and there isn’t much projection. I haven’t seen anything this year that makes me think there is more in the bat like we saw with Christian Kelley last year in WV

  • Well deserving with some awesome offensive numbers. Nice plug for the approach he developed starting at AA Altoona which is Riggs territory. Hopefully the Pirates pick up on that sooner than later.