I want to start out by saying the Atlanta Braves 2018 draft class is loaded with high character kids. You’ll see good makeup and work ethic used to describe many of the guys added to the organization in the past week. However one guy really stands out to me, and that is former UNC Greensboro OF Andrew Moritz.
Moritz came out of high school with no options. He wasn’t drafted and he had just one D1 scholarship offer, which was UNCG. It’s fair to say that he was no where near being on any MLB teams radars.
His story could have ended there, but instead that’s when he went to work. This is going to sound very cliche, but Moritz used hard work and determination to force MLB teams to look at him after leading the Southern Conference in hitting in every one of the three seasons he spent at UNCG.
While the SoCon isn’t the SEC/ACC in terms of college baseball, it has produced some talent over the years. Former Braves prospect Max Povse played at UNCG while former Braves John Cornely and Cory Gearrin played in the league as well. So did recent first round picks like Kyle Lewis(Mariners), Phil Ervin(Reds), as well as high picks like Heath Quinn(Giants) and Will Gaddis(Furman). Big leaguers Greg Holland and Billy Burns also came from the SoCon. So Moritz’s feat is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly- especially when he did play against Lewis and Quinn and still won the batting titles.
Note that Moritz has already signed his contract with the Braves, and will be a guy that came in a little underslot.
I have embedded a bunch of video, but if you want a look at a longer highlight tape from YouTube, you can find that video here.
Here is a year by year look at what Moritz did at UNCG. It’s eye popping to say the least.
2016: 165 AB, .400/.454/.570, 11 2B, 7 3B, 1 HR, 8-10 SB, 18 BB, 21 K
2017: 240 AB, .392/.450/.513, 8 2B, 6 3B, 3 HR, 16-20 SB, 24 BB, 22 K
2018: 215 AB, .428/.492/.637, 7 2B, 10 3B, 6 HR, 12-16 SB, 28 BB, 27 K
Career: 620 AB, .406/.466/.571, 26 2B, 23 3B, 10 HR, 36-46 SB, 70 BB, 70 K
He’s a career .406 hitter who walked more than he struck out in each of his final two seasons and is a very efficient base stealer. You also can’t find a guy who is more consistent, as he hit no lower than .392 in his career.
He also played in the Cape Cod League last year, and while it wasn’t the ideal stat line you could potentially point to it following a long year to help explain how he hit just .243/.323/.279 with 4 2B in 111 AB.
Moritz hit tool is what makes him so special. He makes good, solid contact, often producing line drives. He’s also a left handed hitter who is able to use his speed to help him beat out some extra infield hits. In addition to his feel for the barrel of the bat with a very nice swing, his plate discipline is very strong. While he doesn’t walk a ton, he’s got a great eye and his eye combined with his feel for hitting means he rarely ever strikes out- as evidence by the fact he struck out in just 9.7% of his career at bats. It’s hard for me not to grade this as a plus tool.
Power is not a part of Moritz’s game, nor will it ever be. The combination of his swing that’s built for contact and line drives, as well as his size and strength(5’11”, 180 pounds) put a cap on his power production. He’s got some ability to hit it into the gaps, and with his running ability he is also able to help his power numbers by taking an extra base on the basepaths- however he’s not exactly going to be a true doubles machine either. If he’s able to add a little more gap power, he could increase his profile a even more.
Moritz is a plus runner with plus speed, which helps him on the bases. That speed also helps him out in center field as he’s got very good range in the outfield. It doesn’t hurt that he’s got great instincts and base running skills, which shows up in his ability to steal bases at a high percentage and grab an extra base on a ball into the gap.
Moritz is an above average defender in centerfield thanks to his range. He’s not a guy I have any concerns about in terms of having to move to a corner outfield spot- which really helps his profile as his lack of power really means he needs to play in center to remain an asset.
One of my favorite prospects this draft: Andrew Moritz from UNCG. Only a Junior so signability always an added variable, but he's so fun. His OBP is almost .500 and he can play some CF. pic.twitter.com/wERZ4KFNvf— Jared Stanger (@JaredStanger) May 26, 2018
Moritz has a truly average arm. It’s not a gun, but it’s one that will be very solid in center. While he doesn’t have the bat to profile as a starter in the corners, he does have enough of an arm that he’s more than able to hold his own in right(or left) if he ends up in more of a fourth outfielder role.
Moritz is very interesting. He’s a hard working, high makeup kid with extreme productivity to go with a pair of plus tools in his hit tool and speed. His lack of power means he needs to play center, but he’s got a chance to be a starting caliber center fielder. I see it as being more likely that he ends up as a fourth outfielder, one capable of playing all three outfield spots and adding some speed off the bench.
He reminds me a lot of Todd Cunningham, who had a fairly similar profile. Cunningham had some detractors, but he was a pretty solid prospect overall. The problem with Cunningham is that he was taken much higher than he should have been, adding extra pressure to him.
Moritz has the ability to hit for contact like Cunningham and some speed, however I see Moritz as offering more upside than Cunningham just because he should be an asset in center defensively while Cunningham was best in left- a spot his lack of power didn’t translate well to.
While Moritz may not have the highest upside in the draft class, he’s the kind of player you have to root for to see succeed, and he should be fun to watch with his combination of hitting ability and speed.