2016 Phillies Report Card: Adam Morgan

Once upon a time, Adam Morgan was a touted pitching prospect, a third round pick in the 2011 draft and a standout performer in the Phillies farm system. In May of 2013, the young lefty was on a sharp upward trajectory, carving up hitters at the AA and AAA levels when a torn rotator cuff sidelined him for the next two seasons.

So when Morgan stepped onto the big league mound midway through 2015 and pitched to a 4.48 ERA/1.245 WHIP across 84.1 innings, it was seen as an encouraging step forward. The performance was good for a 5-7 record. Approaching the 2016 season, Morgan was never likely to make the starting rotation but he was at least poised to build on his promising work as a rookie spot starter.

But that’s not how it went.

2016 was pretty much a disaster for Adam Morgan. Across 21 starts and 113.1 innings, Morgan sputtered to a 6.04 ERA and a 1.500 WHIP. He was 2-11, and before you go blaming the Phillies for that record, they owned a winning percentage of .438 while Morgan’s topped out at .154.

If there is a positive takeaway from Morgan’s performance, it is merely this: two years removed from shoulder surgery, Morgan was a healthy arm at pretty much every point the Phillies needed him to be. He was able-bodied, available and was physically capable of delivering a baseball to a catcher’s mitt in those rare instances when it cleared a bat…though really only for five innings at a time. Anything beyond that, forget about it.

The bottom line? Adam Morgan is a healthy man with sleepy velocity and a bad habit of elevating balls into that sweet spot where home run hitters make their living.

As it happens, 2016 also saw Morgan pitching to a 3.04 ERA and a 6-1 record at the AAA level for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. That may tell you a bit about where Morgan probably belongs. He’s a guy the Phillies can tap for a start in an injury-related jam but he’s never going to steal anybody’s job.

Well, anyway, the Phillies posted their 40-man roster for the 2017 season in November and Morgan made the cut. Manager Pete Mackanin and pitching coach Bob McClure have said that they like Morgan, that his attitude and acumen are a good fit for the Phillies. But his body of work in 2016 does not inspire confidence.

The “plus” at the end of his grade is basically for managing to not get hurt.

Grade: F+

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  1. Bob

    December 14, 2016 11:16 AM

    I was not high on Morgan after his injury. He seemed to be rotation depth to me. I can’t really fault him to pitching to the level I believed him to be at. Some players’ ceilings are just lower than others.

  2. Edwin

    December 14, 2016 01:12 PM

    Does he like butter tarts?

  3. Romus

    December 14, 2016 04:24 PM

    First time I ever saw a F plus grade….did not think there were different grades of Fs.
    Anyway, because of the Phillies lack of any LHP starter to break up the string of righties, looks like Morgan is the first guy to look to. I would prefer he become a RP. His stuff may play better for one or two innings at a time.

    • Showtime Dave

      December 14, 2016 04:37 PM

      Out of all the failures, he was the man with one eye. F+ is rough. He had a couple of moments & he might stick as a lefty long reliever?

    • Jerry Spradlin

      December 14, 2016 11:53 PM

      Not sure about that, I don’t see Morgan with any sort of above average pitch that he could use to be an effective reliever. But I do hope he develops one- he seems like a good kid and it’s a shame he did not come back 100% from his shoulder surgery.

      Morgan and Shane Watson are also good reminders that young pitching is not a sure thing- it’s why I like the emphasis the Phils have placed on pitching depth.

      • Romus

        December 15, 2016 10:57 AM

        The one thing he was able to do was hold teams in check for the first and second time thru the lineup…then it fell apart for him.
        As a reliever for an inning or two, it will be easier for him,as the batters will have to make uncomfortable adjustments, and he will probably only see them once.
        Also his velo did tick up from high 80s in ’15 to 91/92 in ’16…..and as a reliever he can probably bring that up into the 92-93T94 range.
        His C&C is good, and for sure he would bring more to the table than Elvis A or Obie did last year or in the past.
        But he will not see the RP gig, since they have no starters that are LHP and he will need to fill that role in the rotation.

  4. Neuter Your Dogma

    December 16, 2016 01:18 PM

    He had a few ok starts in the Show. D- seems more appropriate.

    • Lew

      December 16, 2016 02:41 PM

      Hope he might fill the andrew miller role, not implying he’s in andrew miller league. I think you are going to see more teams have a rp or two who regularly go 2 or three innings to save a starter from the last 20 pitches, right or wrong

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