Morel On The Mend

SAVANNAH, GA - In 2006 a 17-year old Estarlin Morel was not thinking about professional baseball. In fact he had never even played baseball and was kept busy by his job repairing tires at an auto mechanic shop in his native Dominican Republic. Then one day Morel discovered his natural fastball and with it a new career and life opportunities that are not available to your average auto worker.

In the 2011 offseason Estarlin Morel returned to the Dominican Republic where he sprinted up the hills and through the sands near his hometown to improve his stamina. Morel said he returned from the offseason feeling like he was in better condition and a little smaller, but more muscular.

But despite the solid progress in the offseason he knew when he arrived in Spring Training his arm was not quite right.

"When I arrived in camp I noticed my arm hurt, but I went ahead and just got to the grind," Morel said through the help of a translator.

As such Morel said that the 2012 spring camp was not his favorite because of the pains he experienced in his throwing arm.

The injury was not immediately noticed or diagnosed. Nor was it obvious from the right-handed reliever's numbers through his first 12 appearances of the season where he posted a 2.70 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched out of the Sand Gnats bullpen.

That's potentially due to the fact that unlike many pitchers in the low minors Morel does not rely on his fastball. Instead he generates outs with a plus circle-change in a league where many pitchers consider secondary offerings a work in progress.

Morel's changeup is what sets him apart from his peers. His circle change is not only advanced for his age and level, but it is his favorite offering.

Morel started cultivating his circle-change about a year after he began playing baseball. Since then he has modified it from a four-seam grip to a two-seam grip. Also, in Morel's repertoire are a four-seam and two-seam fastball as well as a slider and cutter he began throwing when his arm troubles began.

At the moment Morel is sidelined with an inflamed nerve in his pitching shoulder as well as some rotator cuff issues, having made his last appearance on May 14th [where he still managed to punch out three in two innings giving up one hit].

It is unknown when he will begin a throwing regimen as part of his rehab but according to Morel, Viola, and Griffin it should be soon depending on how his prognosis progresses and how his arm responds to the rest.

Since his arm pains began Morel said he has lost a little zip on his fastball. But the loss of velocity may have been less noticeable or concerning since a hard fastball was not what his pitching philosophy was initially built around after he added the changeup.

Manager Luis Rojas wants to keep Morel from over relying on his changeup and make sure to utilize his other pitches to set it up effectively. Rojas said that Morel cannot risk throwing his off-speed pitches and change too much because it diminishes the effectiveness of those offerings.

Coach Rojas thinks that Morel is a command pitcher with tremendous depth in his pitch selection. He added that the effectiveness of Morel's changeup is increased by his ability to locate his pitches in the bottom of the strike zone.

Sand Gnats strength and conditioning coach Jason Griffin says that Morel's pitching power comes from his lower half.

He added that Morel "loves to do squats" and that the focus should now begin to target his upper body to even out his strength and potentially avoid additional time lost to injury.

"Estarlin's rehab is going great and we hope to have him back out here throwing soon," Griffin said.

One of the symptoms of Morels problems pre-disabled list designation was his noticeable drop in arm angle. Morel said he started dropping his angle to avoid the additional pain that came with throwing from his usual slot.

From the outset of the season pitching Coach Frank Viola spotted Morel's dropped arm angle and has been attempting to keep a close eye on Morel's mechanics.

"He dropped his angle early in camp and has been leading with his elbow," Viola said. "His natural slot was a high three-quarter delivery and we have been trying to get him back to that."

Viola also commented on the outstanding circle-change that Morel will bring with him when he returns to action, saying that its effectiveness is derived from the late action it takes on its way to the plate.

Morel believes his talent is God given, and that's understandable considering that as a trained mechanic he never played much baseball growing up yet possessed a natural fastball approaching 90 mph.

"I just want to thank God for guiding me to baseball and for helping me develop the abilities he gave me," Morel said.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nIn the 2011 offseason Estarlin Morel returned to the Dominican Republic where he sprinted up the hills and through the sands near his hometown to improve his stamina. Morel said he returned from the offseason feeling like he was in better condition and a little smaller, but more muscular.
\r\n
\r\nBut despite the solid progress in the offseason he knew when he arrived in Spring Training his arm was not quite right.
\r\n
\r\n\"When I arrived in camp I noticed my arm hurt, but I went ahead and just got to the grind,\" Morel said through the help of a translator.
\r\n
\r\nAs such Morel said that the 2012 spring camp was not his favorite because of the pains he experienced in his throwing arm.
\r\n
\r\nThe injury was not immediately noticed or diagnosed. Nor was it obvious from the right-handed reliever's numbers through his first 12 appearances of the season where he posted a 2.70 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched out of the Sand Gnats bullpen.
\r\n
\r\nThat's potentially due to the fact that unlike many pitchers in the low minors Morel does not rely on his fastball. Instead he generates outs with a plus circle-change in a league where many pitchers consider secondary offerings a work in progress.
\r\n
\r\nMorel's changeup is what sets him apart from his peers. His circle change is not only advanced for his age and level, but it is his favorite offering.
\r\n
\r\nMorel started cultivating his circle-change about a year after he began playing baseball. Since then he has modified it from a four-seam grip to a two-seam grip. Also, in Morel's repertoire are a four-seam and two-seam fastball as well as a slider and cutter he began throwing when his arm troubles began.
\r\n
\r\nAt the moment Morel is sidelined with an inflamed nerve in his pitching shoulder as well as some rotator cuff issues, having made his last appearance on May 14th [where he still managed to punch out three in two innings giving up one hit].
\r\n
\r\nIt is unknown when he will begin a throwing regimen as part of his rehab but according to Morel, Viola, and Griffin it should be soon depending on how his prognosis progresses and how his arm responds to the rest.
\r\n
\r\nSince his arm pains began Morel said he has lost a little zip on his fastball. But the loss of velocity may have been less noticeable or concerning since a hard fastball was not what his pitching philosophy was initially built around after he added the changeup.
\r\n
\r\nManager Luis Rojas wants to keep Morel from over relying on his changeup and make sure to utilize his other pitches to set it up effectively. Rojas said that Morel cannot risk throwing his off-speed pitches and change too much because it diminishes the effectiveness of those offerings.
\r\n
\r\nCoach Rojas thinks that Morel is a command pitcher with tremendous depth in his pitch selection. He added that the effectiveness of Morel's changeup is increased by his ability to locate his pitches in the bottom of the strike zone.
\r\n
\r\nSand Gnats strength and conditioning coach Jason Griffin says that Morel's pitching power comes from his lower half.
\r\n
\r\nHe added that Morel \"loves to do squats\" and that the focus should now begin to target his upper body to even out his strength and potentially avoid additional time lost to injury.
\r\n
\r\n\"Estarlin's rehab is going great and we hope to have him back out here throwing soon,\" Griffin said.
\r\n
\r\nOne of the symptoms of Morels problems pre-disabled list designation was his noticeable drop in arm angle. Morel said he started dropping his angle to avoid the additional pain that came with throwing from his usual slot.
\r\n
\r\nFrom the outset of the season pitching Coach Frank Viola spotted Morel's dropped arm angle and has been attempting to keep a close eye on Morel's mechanics.
\r\n
\r\n\"He dropped his angle early in camp and has been leading with his elbow,\" Viola said. \"His natural slot was a high three-quarter delivery and we have been trying to get him back to that.\"
\r\n
\r\nViola also commented on the outstanding circle-change that Morel will bring with him when he returns to action, saying that its effectiveness is derived from the late action it takes on its way to the plate.
\r\n
\r\nMorel believes his talent is God given, and that's understandable considering that as a trained mechanic he never played much baseball growing up yet possessed a natural fastball approaching 90 mph.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just want to thank God for guiding me to baseball and for helping me develop the abilities he gave me,\" Morel said.
\r\n
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