Adam Morgan’s Path

Responding to my post yesterday about the Phillies’ contingency plan in case Roy Halladay is unfit or unable to contribute at any point during the 2013 season, many suggested left-hander Adam Morgan as a potential substitute. Morgan was drafted by the Phillies in the third round of the June 2011 draft and has impressed in his brief time in the system. Baseball America ranked him #5 in the Phillies’ top-ten, for example.

Morgan’s path to the Majors has a lot of hurdles, however. Tyler Cloyd, who made his Major League debut last year and whose arbitration clock has already begun, is on the short list of players who could expect a call in a pinch. Jonathan Pettibone has already had a taste of Triple-A competition and will continue with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs this year while being listed on the Phillies’ 40-man roster. Even someone like Aaron Cook, a veteran whose best days are well behind him, would likely get the nod before Morgan. Even Ethan Martin, a right-handed pitching prospect acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Shane Victorino deal, is ahead of Morgan on the depth chart since he is also on the 40-man roster.

That being said, it would not be unprecedented for the Phillies to promote the 23-year-old Morgan shortly after he gets his first taste of Triple-A competition (he still start the year in Double-A). I took a look at the notable pitchers (those who appeared on BA’s Phillies top-ten prospect lists) who have been promoted by the Phillies in recent years:

Player A Years AA Years AAA Years Promotion Age Notes
Gavin Floyd 2 1 0.5 21 Sept. call-up
Brett Myers 2 1 0.5 21
Cole Hamels 1 0 0.5 22
Vance Worley 1 1.5 0 22
Kyle Kendrick 4 0.5 0 22
Randy Wolf 1 0.5 1 22
Ryan Madson 4 1 1 22 Sept. call-up
Rob Tejeda 5 1 0.5 23
Drew Carpenter 2.5 0.5 0 23
J.A. Happ 2.5 0.5 0.5 24
Tyler Cloyd 3.5 1.5 1 25

*Note: Rookie ball was counted as A-ball just for the ease of tabulation.

Morgan has 1.5 years in A-ball and a half-year in Double-A. The players who were promoted with similar or less Minor League time were Randy Wolf, Vance Worley, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, and Gavin Floyd. Worley has been the only pitcher promoted so early in recent years, which could be due to the Phillies’ reliance on established veterans in the rotation and/or a change in organizational philosophy.

Wolf skipped Double-A for the most part, tossing only 25 innings with Reading in 1998 prior to his promotion to the Majors in 1999.

Myers spent one year at each level, from rookie ball through Triple-A.

Floyd started the 2004 season in Double-A for the first time, but was quickly promoted to Triple-A, and eventually earned a September call-up.

Hamels dominated Minor League competition when he was actually on the field. He battled injuries, including a broken hand earned from a bar fight. He tossed a meager 19 innings in Double-A and did not need to stop at Triple-A prior to his promotion to the Majors in 2006.

Though Worley was promoted to the Majors for the first time in July 2010, he was more or less a September call-up. He had begun his second season at Double-A but moved to Lehigh Valley mid-season after a very brief (one inning) stint with the big league club in July.

If Morgan impresses the Phillies enough with Double-A Reading, he could quickly earn a promotion to Lehigh Valley. With a few solid starts there, there could be a possibility he could earn a promotion during the dog days of summer if the Phillies are in desperate need of an arm. For now, though, he is around #5 on the rotation contingency depth chart.

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11 comments

  1. Eric Longenhagen

    March 19, 2013 07:51 AM

    Everyone keep in mind that the last thing we want the Phillies to do is rush Morgan. If he comes up now he’ll be using that slider as a crutch to get outs and he won’t be able to develop the things he needs to improve. Even if his has initial success, when hitters make adjustments to him he’ll have nothing else to fall back on. He needs seasoning. His time will come.

  2. mratfink

    March 19, 2013 08:22 AM

    Eric, what are the pitches that Morgan is trying to improve? Is it something like his fastball command, or is it his third pitch (he throws a change-up as a third pitch right?)

  3. Eric Longenhagen

    March 19, 2013 09:26 AM

    The change up is average right now but I’ve seen it better. If he can work with it and solidify it as a true plus pitch, that’d be great. You also want to see him work on the curve and make it viable at the Major League level which right now it barely is. If you can find a way to keep his velocity in the 91-94mph range, where it sits in spurts and then drops back down to 88-91mph, his celing is even higher. And then you wanna see him just improve sequencing and general pitching stuff like that as well. He might do all those things by the All Star break, we don’t know.

  4. JM

    March 19, 2013 10:38 AM

    I am not advocating Morgan at this point, but remeber Hammels was pretty much a 2 pitch pitcher in his 1st 2 yrs on the big club. If Morgan did make it up, he would have good experienced guys to learn from in Doc and Lee, but also someone from the same perspective in Hammels. Raw stuff can get you through ½ -1 yr, Hammels, Happ, and Worely are proof of that…

  5. LTG

    March 19, 2013 10:45 AM

    Something tells me Morgan does not have the raw stuff that Hamels does/did, especially if he can’t maintain his fastball in the low-to-mid nineties range. But Eric has seen him more and from better angles than I. So, really, I’ll just defer to whatever he says.

  6. LTG

    March 19, 2013 10:49 AM

    If Morgan shows improvement in the first half, is it possible he’ll be called up as a bullpen arm or will that impede his progress?

  7. Eric Longenhagen

    March 19, 2013 03:29 PM

    JM
    Cole has an 80 changeup. Morgan does not have a pitch of that magnitude. Also, Once hitters adjusted to Cole he began to struggle and that kinda cost the Phillies the 2009 World Series.

    LTG
    I wouldn’t pen anyone unless I had to or unless I was trying to scale innings up gradually. Morgan doesn’t have a bullpen pitcher’s profile like maybe Ethan Martin does. I would just let him start until he’s ready. Probably 2014 unless something catastrophic occurs.

  8. Heather

    March 19, 2013 05:34 PM

    Isn’t Dubee sort of like “the change up whisperer”? If Morgan’s biggest hurdle is developing a fringe change up into a good one, I dunno if the big club is a terrible place.

    Obviously it’s still not ideal, but my anxiety about him coming up actually decreased quite a bit if the change up is the biggest hurdle.

  9. Eric Longenhagen

    March 19, 2013 05:39 PM

    Nah, you can’t really teach change-ups. They’re a “feel” pitch for the most part. Cole’s change was devastating from the beginning.

  10. Heather

    March 19, 2013 05:51 PM

    Eric-I obviously have no definitive information. Just going by the numerous guys I’ve read about who credit Dubee with refining/teaching them a good change up. Ad it is suggestive, I think, because I rarely (never) read about anyone crediting Dubee with refining their curve, or their cutter. So it seems like more than mere puffery.

    And the fact that its more of an art than a science doesn’t mean one guy can’t teach it better than others.

    Like I said, if you know for a fact that that is just dead wrong, Ill take you at your word. But the information you presented doesn’t really seem to rebut my hypothesis.

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