MIAMI — The Miami Marlins hope first-round draft pick Colin Moran puts an end to a 7½-year search.
“We haven’t had a long-time third baseman since Mike Lowell left us. We’ve been searching for that person, hopefully it ends right here with you, Colin,” Miami president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said Friday, when Moran officially signed his contract at Marlins Park.
“We can’t wait for you to assume that role and become our everyday third baseman. That journey starts today.”
Lowell was traded to the Boston Red Sox in November 2005 and OF/3B Miguel Cabrera went to Detroit in 2007. Since then, the Marlins tried 22 at third base.
Moran, the sixth overall pick in June’s draft, hit .345 with an NCAA-best 91 RBI as a junior at North Carolina this season. He’s a finalist for the 2013 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, which goes to nation’s top amateur, to be announced July 19.
Miami had until 5 p.m. ET Friday to sign Moran, who arrived in Miami with his parents on Thursday. He reportedly signed for the approximate slot value for the sixth pick of $3.5 million.
“It feels great. I’m definitely really excited,” said Moran, wearing a Marlins cap and a home jersey with his name and No. 1 on the back.
The 6-foot-3, left-handed hitter hails from Rye, N.Y. His brother Brian is a Triple-A pitcher in the Seattle Mariners organization, and uncle B.J. Surhoff played 19 years in the majors with Milwaukee, Atlanta and Baltimore.
“I definitely grew up a Derek Jeter fan, but I think it’s safe to say I’m a Marlins fan now,” Moran said.
Wearing a green-striped golf shirt and khakis, Moran stood with his parents in front of the Marlins dugout railing while his new team took batting practice before Friday night’s game against Washington. As they came off the field, manager Mike Redmond and hitting coach Tino Martinez introduced themselves to the team’s top pick.
A few minutes earlier, Moran said he was “excited” to meet Martinez because, “he was one of my favorite ballplayers.”
In signing with Miami, Moran joins an organization that is rebuilding with young players.
“It feels great,” said Moran, who was expected to take batting practice with the Marlins before Saturday’s game. “I’ve been following the team for a while and you can tell they’re headed in the right direction and I’m excited to be part of it.”
Beinfest said Moran would report to Class A Greensboro of the South Atlantic League on Monday and would be in major league spring training camp next year. Other than that …
“I think it’s up to Colin,” Beinfest said. “We do this annually, and we would love to have these guys here in a hurry, and some of them do make it here quickly. The pitcher tomorrow night (Jose Fernandez) is 20 years old, and he got here in a hurry.
“But the timelines are always different. We believe in Colin’s bat; it was a very advanced bat. It’s up him now, but we have hopes it will be sooner rather than later.”