One should never judge Preston Morrison by his performances in April. Last year at South Bend, his April ERA was 6.11. He turned it around in May with a 2.66 ERA and followed that up in June at 0.83. This year, his April ERA was 5.59 and his May ERA is all the way down to 2.50.
In between Aprils, Morrison was one of the best pitchers in the Cubs’ System in 2016. He was promoted mid season to Myrtle Beach again. Morrison had a 1.77 ERA in six starts as a Pelican.
Lack of Velocity
Command early in the year
Heading into 2017
I don’t know if concern is the right word, but I was pretty interested in seeing how Morrison’s repertoire faced against AA pitching. He has four pitches he can throw for strikes out of the same arm slot
When facing Morrison, most hitters see what looks to be the same type of pitch from an almost ½ arm slot that can go four different ways. His fastball sits 88-90 and has a nice side arm run into a right-handed hitter. His curve comes in a little slower with 12 to 6 action. The slider has more of a 2 to 9 movement that frustrates left-handed hitters.
Because of the lack of velocity, I often wondered how AA hitters would react against his “whiffle ball” arsenal. Just like last year, Morrison adapted very well at each level. I expect him to continue adapting the next couple months.
He is only 23 and I think the Cubs would like him to pitch between 120 to 133 innings at Tennessee unless he is completely dominating by the middle of July.
He is never going to be considered to be an elite prospect. But I still think he can be a very good pitcher and pro if he continues to adapt as he goes through the system. It is fun to watch him pitch.as he has such great movement on his pitches.
Even though he has struggled a bit earlier this year, opponents are only betting .221 against him. His home rate is quite high compared to other years, but at 1.21/9 innings, it is slowly coming down from April. If his command is off just a little bit, he gets lit up.
His walk rate is the most glaring statistic compared to other years. Last year he walked 33 all season; this year he is already at 14 after just 37.1 innings. That ratio has to shrink from 3+ per every nine innings fairly quickly. I think that is how we are going to measure his success in 2017.
I don’t think he has to have perfect command to succeed, but with four pitches between 78 to 90 mph, he has to have close to excellent. Anything up in the zone becomes BP in AA, but when he is in control, most hitters get extremely frustrated as the ball moves and darts at his will.