The Future is Unwritten: Adam Morgan

Since we’re lite on content right now because there’s so little happening in the world of Phillies baseball, I’ll keep churning out my notes on Phillies prospects from this past season.  Today I want to bring your attention to someone you may not know much about, the player who raised his stock more than anyone else in the organization this season, left handed pitcher Adam Morgan.

Adam Morgan didn’t come into the 2012 season with much heat on him at all. He wasn’t on Keith Law’s organizational top ten, he wasn’t on Kevin Goldstein’s Future Shock top twenty and he barely made it on to Baseball America’s top thirty, sneaking onto the Phillies’ list at number twenty nine, seven spots behind his Crimson Tide rotation mate, Austin Hyatt. Something changed. No longer is Morgan, a third rounder from the 2011 draft, being described as a “soft tossing, command and control guy.” He started missing bats, more than one per inning, and forced his way up from Clearwater into a really fun, prospect laden rotation at Double-A Reading where he was just 45 minutes away from me for 2012’s home stretch.

What was cool about the first scouting trip I took to see Morgan was the clean slate on which I could conduct my analysis. I didn’t accidentally stumble upon any opinions or reports on Morgan because there just weren’t any yet, and I didn’t actively seek any out before I saw him because I wanted to be surprised, uncontaminated by anyone else’s ideas. I hopped in the car not knowing if Adam Morgan was right handed, short, fat, black, handsome, blonde or cross eyed. It made me all the more excited to see him and drink everything in from scratch.

The twenty two year old Morgan is not a jaw dropping physical specimen. He’s in fine shape, but his 6’1” frame offers no positive projection. What you see is what you’re going to get for several years.  If Morgan’s physique is going to change, it will change horizontally. Let’s hope it does not because sometimes guys who gain weight have a hard time maintain the athleticism in their delivery, which right now for Morgan is just fine. Morgan lands hard on a stiff front leg and there’s a little bit of effort as he fires but nothing is so violent that I’m concerned about repeatability or sustainable health. You can see the torque Morgan generates with his hips during delivery when you observe him from the side.  It’s beautiful.  These sound mechanics help produce above average control and average command of a slightly above average fastball (I’ll put a 55 on it, 89-92mph) that plays up thanks to terrific movement.  That movement, however, is inconsistent and Morgan’s heater will get flat and straight at times while it dances at others.  His somewhat diminutive stature prevents him from getting natural downhill plane on his fastball which he leaves up more than you’d like. He got away with it while I was in attendance because, hey, it’s Double-A, but that won’t fly in the big leagues and Morgan will have to continue to hone in on the lower third of the zone to avoid becoming homer prone.

The fastball is complimented by a plus changeup (60 but flashed even better three or four times), a true swing and miss pitch which made Double-A hitters look both uncomfortable and ridiculous.  It is clear this is where Morgan has made strides this year as his changeup was previously just a footnote on his scouting report. The pitch sits in the upper 70s with lots of fade and action and, most importantly, Morgan maintains his fastball’s arm speed when he throws it. It’s a weapon that I think will miss some bats in the big leagues one day.

Morgan has two breaking balls, a slider and a curve.  The two can overlap a little (both in shape and velocity) but the hook (30) will usually sit mid to upper 70s while the slider (45), which I like much better, hangs out in the low 80s.  Further development of one of these pitches is crucial to Morgan’s future.  He has an idea what to do with the slider, getting some swings and misses with some back foot work against righties, but it needs refining and I’d like to see him pitch backwards with it later in his starts to get ahead of hitters with something new.

I think the Phillies have stumbled upon a nice backend starter who has a chance to be a solid mid-rotation guy if he improves on his current deficiencies.  Stick a feather in the cap of the Phillies’ player development staff.