Morales Proves To Be Great Addition

Alex Morales was called up from Double-A Harrisburg on May 29th to play for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers.  He has shown to be a great addition to the pitching staff and is establishing himself as one of the Washington Nationals' top relief pitching prospects.

Morales is one of the younger guys on the Columbus team.  After attending Oakton Community College in Illinois, he was selected in the 46th round of the 2003 draft by the Expos.  At the age of 24, Morales is having the best season of his minor league career.

After making the transition from Double-A to Triple-A, Morales has settled in well and hopes he can contribute to the team. He wants to be another player who can come into any inning and help out.

"That's what I'm here for and that's what they have been using me for the last few games," Morales told  "I'm going to continue to do my best."

Morales' role for the Clippers has been pitching out of the bullpen around the 7th or 8th inning.  Sometimes he will see action earlier or later in the game, but Steve McCatty, pitching coach for the Clippers, feels that as a young player, he is better suited for innings with less pressure.

"He is younger guy so we want to put him in situations that hopefully that there isn't a lot of pressure at first," McCatty told us.  "Then as he gets more comfortable, we will put his feet to the fire."

While Morales might not have the comfort level needed to pitch important innings, he definitely has the skills and pitches to do so.  With an excellent fastball, curveball, and decent changeup, Morales has been a great weapon for Columbus.

"My favorite pitch is my fastball and it's probably the best pitch I have too," Morales said.  "I throw it pretty fast and when it's consistent, no one can spot it, and I can get a lot of strikes with it."

Even though he can throw a 95 MPH fastball, Morales acknowledges he needs to improve on some of his mechanics, like the location of his pitches.  Sometimes when he is too pumped up in a game, his fastball is high and out of the zone.  Morales is also working on the number of walks he allows per game.  He knows the best way to improve these things is by practice.

"He has a plus fastball and a plus curveball.  Both of those pitches are really super good pitches and his change up is a surprise too, which is his third pitch," McCatty said.  "He needs to learn how to throw his curveball more consistently and locate his fastball a little better, but hopefully we can work on that here."

Along with the physical skills and abilities that go along with the game of baseball, a player must have the mental skills for the game.  As a young player, you must work on this everyday. 

"As a player you must know your role, understand the situation, and know and read the hitters," McCatty said.  "A lot of times a young guy is more concerned with keeping a player, who is on base, from not scoring instead of concentrating on getting outs.  They have to know how to slow down the game when they are out there and keep control."

Morales has done a great job of this so far this season and continues to improve everyday.  The coaching staff believes he has the skills needed for the major leagues and that his major league debut may be in the near future.

"My goal is to keep pitching well, keep getting strikes, and hopefully getting called up by the Nationals, if not in the near future, then in September," Morales said.

With all the potential Morales has, it is evident, as long as he stays healthy, that he could have an outstanding career.

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