Adam Morgan Could Help The Phillies Rotation Soon

Left-handed pitcher Adam Morgan entered the 2013 season as one of the top arms in the Philadelphia farm system. I got a chance to see him pitch for triple-A Lehigh Valley last week when they visited Pawtucket.

The Breakdown

Morgan was a 3rd round pick (120th overall) in 2011 out of the University of Alabama. He had an up and down college career but showed enough to entice the Phillies to give him $250,000 after his Junior season. Morgan has impressed as a professional. His pro career was punctuated by a strong showing in the Florida State League last season. In 123 innings in the FSL for high-A Clearwater the southpaw struck out 140 batters while only allowing 103 hits and 28 walks. Morgan even ended the year with double-A Reading. Six good starts there apparently convinced the Philadelphia organization that he was ready for triple-A.

Morgan doesn’t have great size but he’s a solid athlete with a good pitcher’s frame. He has a quick arm and largely clean delivery and arm action. Morgan’s fastball sat around 89-90 mph early, but he got stronger as the day went on and was bumping 93-94 mph fairly regularly. I wouldn’t call his heater “straight,” but it didn’t have a tremendous amount of life either. The pitch plays up because he locates it well with good downward plane. Endurance didn’t appear to be an issue. His stuff and velocity both held up well throughout his start.

For secondary pitches Morgan throws a slider, curveball and changeup. I liked his change the best of the three. The change was thrown around 80-82 mph with good arm speed. Morgan had advanced feel for it and was able to throw it for strikes low in the zone. Both breaking balls had their moments but were inconsistent. The slider had some bite on it but lacked depth. The curve was thrown softer (in the mid 70’s) but breaks early and could stand to be tightened up some.

Morgan has a veteran’s poise on the mound and that’s what I like to see in a college draftee. He kept everything down and pounded the bottom of the zone. Most of his misses were down, too. I saw him command his fastball to both sides of the plate and he was unafraid to throw inside. This is a pitcher who knows how to pitch and the floor is fairly high as a result.

The Path to Playing Time

The Phillies have some uncertainty at the back of their rotation right now. On Monday the big league club called up Morgan’s Lehigh Valley teammate Jon Pettibone. I saw Pettibone pitch last week as well. I think that Morgan can give you right now isn’t far off what Pettibone can give you right now. Neither guy would be hurt by being given more time to hone their craft in the minors though.

The future rotation in Philly is less settled than you’d imagine even with Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee signed long term. Roy Halladay is having one of the worst starts of his career. Halladay has a vesting option for 2014 based on innings pitched and potential 2013 DL stints. Kyle Kendrick has taken a step forward the last couple seasons but will be entering his expensive arb. years shortly. With the major league team scuffling there has been conjecture that someone like Lee could be moved. Morgan will have to compete with other minor league arms like Pettibone and Jesse Biddle.

  • On 40 Man Roster: No
  • Options Remaining: 3

What to Expect

I project Morgan as a capable mid-rotation starter. I’m not sure the stuff is electric enough for more, but there are many aspects of Morgan’s game I like. Even if he fails to improve I can see him as an up and down 4 or 5 starter. There are probably worse back end pitchers in the big leagues right now.

  • Mixed League Value: Solid option. I don’t know that Morgan will miss quite as many bats in MLB, but he does enough things well that he will give the Phils and your fantasy team plenty of quality starts.
  • NL Only League Value: Strong option. He won’t anchor a staff or dominate any categories, but you’ll want guys like this on your team.
  • Ottoneu Value: Solid option. Not a real impact guy but helps fill out a staff and provides some consistent points.

Thanks for reading – AS

Thanks to Bill Wanless and the Pawtucket Red Sox organization for courtesies extended



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Al Skorupa writes about baseball & baseball prospects for Bullpen Banter and Fangraphs/Rotographs. He lives in Rhode Island. He watches & videotapes a good amount of amateur and minor league baseball. You can follow him on twitter @alskor.


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KMen
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KMen

If both pettibone and morgan are available, which would you pick up?
Do you expect Morgan to get called up soon to replace Pettibone, or is Pettibone the better option for this year?

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