Miami Marlins

A call up has him ‘flooded with emotion.’ He can make history in his Marlins debut

Marlins’ Brian Moran on MLB callup: ‘Pretty unbelievable’

Miami Marlins pitcher Brian Moran discusses the chance to make his MLB debut.
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Miami Marlins pitcher Brian Moran discusses the chance to make his MLB debut.

Brian Moran could barely contain his emotions.

The left-handed relief pitcher glanced around the visitor’s clubhouse, soaked in the environment and finally accepted the reality.

He’s here. He’s with the Miami Marlins.

He’s a Major League Baseball player.

With the rosters expanded over the final month of the season, Moran is one of three players the Marlins called up before Tuesday’s series opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Joining Moran are two of his Triple A New Orleans teammates in outfielder Magneuris Sierra and catcher Tyler Heineman.

“You look forward to if it’ll happen,” Moran said, fighting back tears. “There’s moments when you don’t think it’ll happen and then when it does, you’re flooded with emotion.”

Making the moment even sweeter for the 30-year-old Moran: His younger brother — and former Marlins first-round pick — Colin Moran is in the other clubhouse as the Pirates’ starting third baseman.

The two shared a quick hug pre-game when Brian Moran arrived in Pittsburgh.

“The chances of it lining up this way is pretty unbelievable,” Brian Moran said. “It’s a great moment for my family.”

It could also put them in rare company.

Outside of it being the first time the brothers played against each other since their days playing wiffle ball in the backyard, Brian Moran would be just the seventh player since 1900 to make his MLB debut against his brother’s team if he makes it to the mound during the three game series, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“We’re gonna try that, if we can get it,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.

Even more, should his brother step into the batter’s box against him, Brian and Colin Moran would be the first siblings to face each other in a pitcher-batter scenario with one of the brothers making his debut.

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“I’d like to think that seeing a familiar face would help calm the nerves,” Moran said, “but who knows? ... Either way, I’m excited to be here.”

Whenever Moran gets into the game — and whoever he faces — it will serve as the culmination of an 11-year journey through the minor leagues. Moran, a seventh-round pick in the 2009 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners, was part of five MLB organizations and had two stints in the independent Atlantic League before the Marlins signed him to a minor-league contract this offseason.

“It’s always good to see guys get that first call and the excitement of being here,” Mattingly said.

Moran impressed in his lone season in the Marlins organization. He struck out 77 batters and held opponents to a .207 batting average over 60 innings with in Triple A.

He was nearly untouchable against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .086 batting average and striking them out out 43.8 percent of the time (32 of 73).

“He’s had one of the best Triple A reliever seasons in all of minor-league baseball,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said last week.

Moran was optimistic that his performance this season would result, finally, in his first crack at the majors.

“You always hope so,” Moran said. “It’s something that at the end of the season you hope for. When you’re in Triple A, you know that’s something that exists. You try not to think about it as much as possible because you know it’s something that’s out of your hands. You try to do your best to hopefully create an opportunity for yourself.”

The opportunity is here.

The other call ups

Moran isn’t the Marlins’ only call up for the final month of the season.

Sierra, obtained as part of the Marcell Ozuna trade in December 2017, is getting his second crack at the majors with the Marlins.

The 23-year-old outfielder struggled with the Marlins last year, hitting .190 with more strikeouts (39) than hits (31). He had a solid year in the minors this year, hitting .275 with 33 stolen bases and 77 runs scored between Double A Jacksonville and Triple A New Orleans.

Heineman, a switch-hitting catcher, joined the Marlins organization in June as part of a minor-league trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He’s a career .285 hitter over eight minor-league seasons and hit .336 with 13 home runs, 38 RBI and 42 runs this year.

Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.