Coming from one of the country’s elite college program at Cal-Irvine, right-handed pitcher Andrew Morales was in a very different position in June 2014 than the prior year.
The senior had shown durability, with his 17 starts being fourth in the country, and experienced success, being selected as an All-American by Collegiate Baseball, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and the American Baseball Coaches Association. Morales led his Anteaters club into the College World Series in Omaha, under the guidance of his pitching coach Danny Bibona, another UCI grad and the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2010 eighth-round draft pick.
Even better, the 21-year-old was not passed over in the draft as was the case in 2013. In fact, Morales’ name was called out by the same club, the Cardinals, with their second pick of the second round, 71st overall. It was a selection received by the club in Major League Baseball’s Competitive Balance Lottery.
Once the CWS concluded, Morales signed quickly and reported to the Cardinals’ lowest-level US rookie squad in the Gulf Coast League. He did not pitch in game action until mid-July, however.
In the GCL, the 6-foot-0, 195-pounder appeared in three games before making two appearances at the A-Advanced level for Palm Beach. In those two outings against more challenging competition in the Florida State League, Morales was impressive, striking out six and walking none, while yielding one run on just two hits in 7 1/3 innings.
On August 8, the Cardinals decided to call it a year for Morales and returned him to the GCL roster in a paperwork move. In the most recent Cardinals system prospect rankings from The Cardinal Nation, Morales is listed under the honorable mentions, but should move up quickly once he gets more professional innings under his belt next spring.
I caught up with Morales in Jupiter, Florida as he was doing rehab work at the Cardinals complex, but not pitching during the organization’s instructional league camp going on in parallel. In the following audio interview, Morales discusses his collegiate experience, his first exposure to the professional ranks, his pitching arsenal and his goals for 2015.
The Cardinal Nation’s extensive series of player and coach interviews from Cardinals instructional league camp in Jupiter will continue in the upcoming days. They will include Mike Shildt, Derrick May, Tim Leveque, Oscar Mercado, Malik Collymore, Carson Kelly, Mason Katz, Alex Reyes, Bryan Dobzanski, Rowan Wick, Chris Rivera and Jery Then.
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