Yep, yet another intriguing young arm from the Angels' 2013 draft class. Elliot Morris is bringing the heat at #23 on our prospect countdown list.
Position: RHP Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6'4" Weight: 210
Age: 21 Born: 4/26/1992
2013 Rank: Unranked
2013 Season Stats
Orem: 27.1 IP, 2-2, 3.95 ERA, 29 H, 11 BB, 1 HR, 25 SO, 3.38 FIP, .359 BABIP, 39.2 GB%
Fastball = B
Morris’ fastball sat between 89-93 this season in Orem, sitting mostly at 92-93 and was even juiced up to 95 on occasion. He doesn’t hide the ball but does use the same arm angle for his change up’s effectiveness in the future.
Offspeed Pitches = D
Morris has a changeup and a curve, but neither are particularly effective pitches right now. He struggles with his release point on his curveball and doesn’t seem to have a particular feel for where it’s going, though it does show at least average break. His changeup seems like the better of the two for the time being but in the future it will likely become a rarely used pitch. He uses the same arm slot and speed which gives the pitch deception but it really doesn’t move at all and is simply a slower version of his fastball for now. His effectiveness as a starter will likely depend on his ability to command the curve ball and hopefully find something that can make his change up move a little.
Control = B
Morris had no troubles keeping his fastball and changeup around the strike zone. His curve is another matter but he has plenty of time to work on that.
Command = B
It changes with each pitch. Morris can command his fastball, which works in his favor because 92 MPH fastballs don’t generally blow hitters away. But it does make him particularly more advanced at this stage of his career than most first year pitchers. Morris has even shown the ability to spot his change on occasion, though I’d hope he keeps it down more. His curve however is still elusive.
Mechanics = A
That’s the initial thing that stuck out to me with Morris. He has a very “pretty” delivery. He stands upright, is balanced, lands gracefully, his high three-quarters release isn’t violent. He had Tommy John surgery in 2011 and had a bit of a slow recovery from what I understand, but looking at him right now, his delivery looks like exactly what is commonly taught. I guess if I were going to nitpick, I’d say he doesn’t show a ton of hip turn which may rob him of a couple ticks on his fastball but his motion is just so effortless I’d rather he kept it the same.
Performance = B
Orem is not an easy place to pitch in, but Morris seemed to not mind it so much. In exclusively 2-3 inning stints (so as to avoid over-working and to give all prospects an opportunity to get their work in) Morris accumulated a 3.95 ERA. That’s actually quite good.
Projection = C+
Physically, it would appear Morris is done growing. He has the same stature and build as Matt Garza. His fastball would grade out slightly above average but like many prospects the big thing he needs to work on is developing his secondary pitches. Most pitchers who make it onto the top prospect lists have dynamic off-speed pitches that they really can’t control. Morris doesn’t have those, but is a lot closer to having two average secondary offerings than many prospects are to capitalizing on their “plus” offerings. This doesn’t help him in the projection department but it does likely make Morris a safer bet than some of the more hyped “raw” pitchers.
Grade as a Prospect = C
Morris did quite well at Piece College this past season and appears to have fully recovered from Tommy John surgery two years prior. While his stuff doesn’t jump out at you, he seems like a pitching prospect that’s much less likely to make it to A-ball and flame out. He’s close enough to capitalizing on his potential that he should have a steady climb up the ladder and be a potential #4/5 starter. Of course I have issues saying that because in terms of stuff, Greg Maddux was probably a #3/4/5 starter, but results made it so that he was a first ballot Hall of Famer. Clearly, I’m not saying this is Morris’ road. But his effectiveness as a pitcher seems heavily dependent upon him spotting his pitches wherever they need to be.
Estimated MLB Arrival Date = 2017
Morris doesn’t really seem like the sort of pitcher destined for relief. He doesn’t have the plus offerings or the bulldog mentality. He much more smooth, composed and seems more intelligent on the mound than many prospects his age. He almost certainly seems destined for the rotation, which is quite a longer and more difficult road to the majors than the bullpen, but also considerably more rewarding. He’s entering his age-22 season and I think the Angels will take their time with him. If he makes it, I envision him doing so around age 25.
2013 in Review*
Selected in the fourth round of the 2013 Amateur Draft, the Angels scooped up an interesting power arm in Morris. He comes from a small school in Washington state, so even though he is 21 years old, he isn't exactly coming from a level of elite competition. This has been a trend amongst the arms the Halos targeted in 2013. He also is a pitcher who, despite his youth, has already had Tommy John surgery. That is no longer a big black mark like it used to be though, in fact, it might even be a point in his favor that he is a post-TJ that has already bounced back enough to regularly touch 95 MPH.
Morris signed relatively quickly upon being drafted, so he was able to get 11 appearances under his belt in the Pioneer League. His numbers were perfectly fine for Orem, though it would've been a little more encouraging if he had posted better strikeout numbers. His 21.2% strikeout rate is respectable, but for a kid with fastball and command, you'd hope to see him posting an elite rate at that level of competition. That's really just nitpicking though. The same goes for his groundball rate. We are dealing with a small sample size, but with the sink on his fastball and his arm slot, you'd like to see him induce a lot more grounders.
He's big, he's healthy and he throws fairly hard. There isn't much in the way projection left for Morris to achieve, so he figures to be on of the faster moving arms of the 2013 draft class. His secondary stuff needs work, but it is good enough to keep him advancing for the time being. With his physical maturity, the Angels will certainly push Morris into full season ball this year, but they probably won't go so far as to have him skip Burlington so that he can work on the offspeed pitches. The breaking ball should be his primary focus as his fastball command could be good enough that he can get away with being a two-and-a-half pitch starter.
*As we do every year, the scouting reports and grades are provided by Scotty Allen while Garrett Wilson provides the 2013 in Review and Looking Ahead sections.