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Marlins call on Morrison

You’ve probably heard by now, but Marlins’ left fielder Chris Coghlan tore the meniscus in his left knee after hitting Wes Helms in the face with a shaving-cream pie following the his walk-off single on Sunday. He could be out up to eight weeks depending on whether or not surgery is required. Florida replaced Coghlan on the active roster by calling up one of the game’s very best prospects, first baseman Logan Morrison.

Morrison, 22, was declared the 18th best prospect in the game prior to the 2009 season by Baseball America before they ranked him 20th before this season. No. 20 in baseball was only good enough for No. 2 on the Marlins, who had some kid named Mike Stanton ahead of him, but that’s okay, we won’t hold it against him. “Morrison has the best plate discipline in the organization,” said the crew at BA of the lefty swinger. “He has a balanced, flat swing that enables him to keep his bat in the zone a long time. He has plus power and can put on a batting-practice show that nearly rivals those of Jacksonville teammate Mike Stanton.”

The scouting report sounds wonderful, and the minor league stats are just as impressive. He hit .332/.402/.494 in A-ball in 2008, then followed it up with a.277/.408/.439 performance last year, though he missed most of April and May with a broken bone in his right hand. The 666th overall pick in the 2005 draft has ratcheted it back up to his 2008 levels this year, hitting .313/.424/.502 almost exclusively in Triple-A. Aside from a pronounced split last season, Morrison hasn’t shown much weakness against lefthanders in the bush leagues.

A first baseman by trade, the Marlins have gotten Morrison some reps in left field in each of the last two seasons, which is where he’ll primarily play in the big leagues. Florida isn’t shy about sticking guys in left with little to no experience at the position, they did it with Coghlan just last year and with Miguel Cabrera back in the day. Thankfully we don’t have to worry about defensive value, just playing time.

The team has indicated that Morrison will share playing time in left with Emilio Bonifacio, depending largely on the pitching matchup. Bonifacio has a .286 career wOBA in 765 plate appearances (to his credit, it’s .314 this year), so I can’t imagine he’ll hold onto this job for long, not if Morrison proves competent against big league lefties. I’d give it two weeks or so before he’s playing every day.

CHONE projected a rock solid .264/.344/.409 batting line for Morrison before the season, and his MLE according to MinorLeagueSplits.com isn’t far off at .249/.346/.378. Morrison is a 1B by default in Yahoo! leagues, so it’ll take a week or two until he picks up OF eligibility as well. Even if he overshoots the projections and MLE a bit (say .275 AVG with a .160 ISO), Morrison still isn’t a top tier fantasy first baseman, but he’d make for a damn fine third outfielder. That value only increases in NL-only or deep leagues.

Morrison is in tonight’s lineup, batting second between leadoff hitter Hanley Ramirez and Gaby Sanchez (.368 wOBA), not a terrible place to hit. If he stays there, the RBI and runs scored opportunities should be plentiful.