Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Meet Tony Kemp and Colin Moran

Update: Kemp will take Preston Tucker's roster spot as he was sent to Fresno; Carlos Gomez has been placed on the DL with a bruised rib cage to make room for Moran on the 25-Man spot; Asher Wojciechowski has been DFA'd to make room on the 40-Man.

So tonight's game against the White Sox has turned into a new era of the 2016 Astros as they try to plug the hole in the sinking ship with the arrivals of Colin Moran and Tony Kemp. Both have spent the entire season in Triple-A, which is likely why you're not seeing the likes of Joe Musgrove and Alex Bregman. Anyway, to the matter at hand: who are these guys?

Tony Kemp

Kemp was the Astros' 5th Round pick (137th overall) in the 2013 Draft. Originally from just outside of Nashville, Kemp was drafted from Vanderbilt along with teammate Conrad Gregor, who went in the 4th Round.

Kemp is a career .303/.394/.403 hitter. So he's high-average, high-OBP, with doubles power. Of his 92 extra-base hits, he has 59 doubles and 19 triples. He's also stolen 101 bases in 143 attempts - a 70.6% success rate. He's versatile in the field, too: though he's played the majority of his pro career at Second Base (291 games), he does have 61 games of outfield experience - 39 in Center and 22 in Left Field, which is likely where Kemp will spend his time in Houston. He's always been a high-BABIP guy, too. In 34 games for Fresno he posted a .357 BABIP, so he's going to make contact, get on base, a double occasionally, and steal bases.

As we talked about last night on the Lima Time Time podcast, I'd like to see him lower in the lineup. How many times have the Astros needed a base hit that will score a run or two from the bottom half of the order? Kemp *could* be that guy.

Colin Moran

Moran was the 6th overall pick by the Marlins in the 2013 draft and was acquired by the Astros in the fleecing that was the Cosart/Wates/Hernandez for Marisnick/Moran/Martes/Comp Pick trade in 2014.
In 32 games for Fresno, Moran has hit .288/.331/.416 with 32K:9BB in 136 PAs. This isn't exactly setting the world on fire, but Luis Valbuena's play to start 2016 forced this move.

Over his career, Moran has a .299/.356/.426 slash line with 67 doubles and 23 home runs. He's not particularly fast, but plays a solid 3B. Though he's striking out in almost a quarter of his plate appearances, and not drawing too many walks (a career low 6.6% in his first go at Triple-A), FanGraphs does say he's an average run producer, which is more than we can say about Valbuena. Some adjustment time to Triple-A is to be expected.

Moran has been particularly good against lefty pitching - .350/.395/.425 this season so far, and he has shown a little more pop in May than he did to open the season with a .453 SLG, compared to April's .389 SLG. He only has three plate appearances against pitchers younger than he.

Moran is another high-BABIP guy. You can say a lot of things about the 2016 Astros but "high" and "BABIP" have yet to collide in a sentence for this team. Moran's BABIP is sitting at .359, which is a few ticks lower than the .365 he had in Corpus last year, and on par with the .360 BABIP he had in his first go at Corpus to close out the 2014 season.

With these two moves you can see the Astros trying to evolve away from the all-or-nothing homer or strikeout scenario. Both Kemp and Moran put the bat on the ball and have the potential to be guys to keep a rally moving, or get the hit that is needed to score those ever-elusive runs with runners in scoring position.