Michael Morales Going Deeper Into Games

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Back in the 2021 draft the Seattle Mariners selected high school righty Michael Morales from Pennsylvania in the third round. He only made one short one inning appearance that year. Then in 2022 he started 26 games and pitched about 120 innings. However he never pitched a full six innings in any start and topped out at just 92 pitches in an outing.

Now that Morales has more experience under his belt, he has been pitching deeper into games this year. In four of his last five starts the righty has gone at least six innings. In his last two starts he went 7 innings on 85 pitches and 6 2/3 innings on 104 pitches, a career high. He also tied a career high in his most recent outing when he had 9 strikeouts.

Morales might not be the high level prospect that George Kirby and Logan Gilbert were, but he is squarely a back end of the rotation prospect. Jason Churchill had this to say about his 18th ranked Mariners prospect, “Still see Morales as a four-pitch, volume starter with a No. 4 ceiling, in the mold of a Jeremy Hellickson, Ian Kennedy, Alex Cobb, Anthony DeSclafani type.”

Even without the ceiling of being a front of the rotation starter, those pitchers Churchill mentioned have had lengthy and quality careers in the big leagues. With the exception of DeSchlafani, who is the youngest of the group, they all started for at least a decade in the big leagues and had at least a career Wins Above Replacement of 10 according to Baseball Reference. Morales doesn’t draw the attention of top 100 prospect lists, but he is really having a solid year down in Modesto.

Modesto Nuts (A) – California League

5 Cole Young SS .264/.400/.413, 2 HR, 14.8% BB, 14.8% K
9 Gabriel Gonzalez OF .343/.401/.503, 4 HR 6.8% BB, 15.5% K
18 Michael Morales RHP 10 GS, 54 IP, 3.33 ERA, 24.5% K, 7.9% BB
28 Tyler Gough RHP 9 G, 8 GS, 28 IP, 6.11 ERA, 17.7% K, 11.3% BB
35 Milkar Perez 3B .276/.394/.366, 14.4% BB, 25.6% K
36 Josh Hood SS/3B .257/.336/.398, 4 HR, 10.8% BB, 21.1% K
48 Tatem Levins C .294/.378/.539, 5 HR 12.6% BB, 21.8% K

Everett AquaSox (A+) — Northwest League

1 Harry Ford C .267/.433/.439, 7 HR, 20% BB, 18.9% K
8 Axel Sanchez SS .202/.307/.311, 2 HR, 10.2% BB, 29.2% K
13 Tyler Locklear 3B .311/.419/.572, 11 HR, 12.4% BB, 22.1% K
25 Hogan Windish 2B .214/.339/.459, 6 HR, 13.6% BB, 31.4% K
29 Alberto Rodriguez OF .304/.391/.613, 10 HR, 10.1% BB, 23.1% K
38 Walking Cabrera OF .238/.298/.431, 7 HR, 8.3% BB, 32% K

Arkansas Travelers (AA) – Texas League

6 Bryan Woo RHP 9 GS, 44 IP, 2.05 ERA, 34.3% K, 7% BB
7 Emerson Hancock RHP 11 GS, 46.1 IP, 5.44 ERA, 27.8% K, 13.2% BB
12 Prelander Berroa RHP 14 G, 5 GS, 34 IP, 3.97 ERA, 35.5% K, 19.1% BB
14 Jonatan Clase OF .273/.386/.585, 15 HR, 15% BB, 29.7% K
21 Robert Perez Jr. 1B .253/.308/.416, 7 HR, 6.2% BB, 31.3% K
22 Isaiah Campbell RHP 12 G, 13 IP, 2.77 ERA, 26.4% K, 7.5% BB
26 Juan Mercedes RHP 10 G, 9 GS, 48.1 IP, 4.28 ERA, 23.8% K, 7% BB
33 Travis Kuhn RHP 17 G, 18 IP, 3.00 ERA, 18.4% K, 13.2% BB
45 Spencer Packard OF .302/.426/.481, 5 HR, 16% BB, 20% K

Tacoma Rainiers (AAA) – Pacific Coast League

15 Taylor Dollard RHP 3 GS, 8.1 IP, 7.56 ERA, 22.2 K%, 8.3% BB
19 Juan Then RHP 9 G, 11.2 IP, 9.26 ERA, 22.4% K, 10.3% BB
20 Cade Marlowe OF .242/.307/.404, 3 HR, 7.8% BB, 28.5% K
24 Zach DeLoach OF .303/.414/.442, 5 HR, 15.1% BB, 27.9% K

Mariners Draft Spotlight

We are just 30 days away from the MLB Draft getting underway, so we are starting to hear some names that teams could be linked to. Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline spoke with Seattle Sports about possible draft targets for the Mariners in the upcoming draft. He first mentioned TCU third baseman Brayden Taylor who we covered here last week. Callis noted that the Mariners could go with a high school infielder like they did last year with Cole Young. He grouped Kevin McGonigle, Colt Emerson, and Walker Martin. Perhaps the most interesting name mentioned in the article is a very talented two-way prep player.

The two-way player mentioned by Callis is Bryce Eldridge from Virginia. He is a 6-foot-7 right-handed pitcher, outfielder, and first baseman. He has an electric arm on the mound and has huge power from the left side of the plate.

Joe Doyle of Future Stars Series has him ranked as his 10th best prospect in this 2023 class, saying “This is the best two-way prep the game has seen in quite some time. Projection, projection, projection. Eldridge and his long-levered 6-foot-7-inch frame and advanced body control have legit two-way upside.

Some believe Eldridge’s double-plus raw power, tight turns and compact swing will lead him into a slugger archetype role at the next level, and we can’t disagree. He’s hit enough to suggest that may be the case.

He’s also an accomplished defender in the outfield with plenty of speed and a strong throwing arm, tested in centerfield as a prep. His tools are an abundance of riches. An incredibly exciting talent.”

Seattle might not even get a chance to draft this talented 18-year-old, but if he is there at 22, 29, 0r 30 the talent could entice Scouting Director Scott Hunter to pull the trigger and select Eldridge. MLB Pipeline had him ranked 21st overall compared to Doyle’s 10th overall ranking, so there is a bit of a difference in rankings. In both Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis’ most recent mock drafts they had Eldridge going 17th to the Orioles and 19th to the Rays, so he might slide to 22nd for Seattle.

Mariners Prospects in the News

The Mariners have many talented young ballplayers down in the rookie leagues, but MLB Pipeline says that one right-hander stands out above the rest right now.

Seattle signed veteran infielder Didi Gregorius t0 a minor league contract according a sources.

After a rough debut, rookie Bryan Woo will stay in the rotation and is scheduled to pitch Saturday in Anaheim.

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Curtis Christianson

Curtis Christianson is the Athletic Director at Concordia Christian Academy. He also works in the Tacoma Rainiers clubhouse during the baseball season.

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