School: University of California-Irvine
Selected 2014 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Message board community (32): Andrew Morales received some high praise within the community despite pitching only a few innings in the Gulf Coast League and at Class A+ Palm Beach this year.
Opening our vote discussion, Freshjmm pointed out that Morales was extremely successful as a collegiate pitcher, going 40-1 during his four-year college career. Scadder21 thinks Morales is the second coming of our own Seth Maness, while CardsInChitown took it a step further, believing Morales is going to be the 2015 version of 2013 Michael Wacha or 2014 Marco Gonzales - if everything goes okay physically with him.
Freshjmm thinks Morales gets slighted mostly due to not being 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. In the vote, Morales was competing against with other pitchers such as Ronnie Williams and Zach Petrick. UncleDenny did not care for that, stating that he likes probably a dozen pitchers better than Williams or Petrick, with Morales being one of them. - Jeremy Byrd
Derek Shore: The competitive balance lottery selection the Cardinals received as an extra pick in the 2014 amateur draft was used on Morales, who gets a top 40 nod in his first year on the ballot.
Projected to go somewhere in the first 10 rounds of the draft as a money-saving pick, Morales turned out to be just that. The 71st-overall selection did not sign until after Cal-Irvine was eliminated in the College World Series. He then reported to the Gulf Coast League, the Cardinals’ lowest-affiliated club in the United States.
The 6-footer appeared in three games for the GCL Cardinals before “jumping the fence” to Palm Beach to face a more appropriate level of competition. His season ended early after only two outings at Palm Beach due to his heavy workload already put in during the collegiate schedule.
Morales neither strikes fear into opponents nor is physically imposing on the mound, and does not possess wipeout stuff. But one quality the right-hander has and was probably a consideration in when he was drafted is that he is a proven winner who throws a lot of strikes.
To add on top of that, his stuff improved during his senior season such that his fastball velocity increased two or three mph, which allows him to now sit in the low 90s consistently. Morales uses a slider as his out-pitch and mixes in a decent change-up to keep hitters honest.
He should be fully ready to go for a full season of professional work in 2015 which should allow him to move up the ladder quickly. First, he will have to show he has mastered Palm Beach and then make that difficult jump to Springfield that has made so many prospects, but broke a number of others.
Brian Walton (39): What a difference a year makes. As a junior in 2013, Morales was completely passed over in the 40-round First-Year Player Draft. Just 12 months later, he was a second-rounder.
Some of that is a testament to Morales’ further development as a pitcher as was his continued durability, not missing a start in four years. At least as important to his lofty second-round status, though, was the reality that as a senior, Morales had little leverage. Holding out would not mean more money. It would simply delay his professional introduction. The Cardinals redeployed the bonus dollars saved on Morales to go over slot on several others.
In terms of competition, Morales should have performed well against the teenagers in the GCL and he did. Far more encouraging was his continued success against more age-appropriate hitters in the Florida State League in his pair of outings with Palm Beach.
In fact, Morales outpitched far more celebrated first-rounder Luke Weaver, who was following a similar path during his first professional season after the spring campaign at Florida State. Both were shut down in early August for good reason. Between college and pro ball this season, Morales pitched more innings than anyone in the Cardinals minor league system.
Morales remained behind in Jupiter during instructional league in September and October. Though he was working out, not pitching in game action, he assured me there was no lingering problem in this interview, exclusively for The Cardinal Nation members. Interestingly, Morales explains why the Gulf Coast League was more challenging to him than was the FSL.
With his professional innings count being so low, I was unable to see Morales pitch in live action. Looking at his numbers, the un-Maness-like extreme fly ball split is a bit concerning. At this point, I cannot get too excited about Morales either way. We should learn a lot more about what the Cardinals really have in him during 2015.
In the interview, he shared with me that his goals include becoming a mid-season all-star and earning an in-season promotion – reasonable targets. Assuming he starts back at Palm Beach, then reaches Double-A in his first full-season, it would be a solid accomplishment. If the results are there, expect Morales to shoot up the ranks in our 2015 monthly prospect rankings as well.
Our 2015 top 40 series continues: To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 40 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of the latter are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.
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