MadFriars' Interview: Elliot Morris

LAKE ELSINORE - In last year’s off-season one of the trades the Padres made was sending super utility infielder Logan Forsythe and a slew of prospects to the Tampa Bay Rays for lefty Alex Torres and an oft injured minor league starter named Jesse Hahn.

At the time the Padres were in need of a proven lefty coming out of the bullpen and got that in Torres but down the road the most valuable piece of the trade could end up being Hahn, who has looked very good in San Diego this season with a 3.07 ERA in 73.1 innings and should be in the rotation for 2015.

In mid-July San Diego traded their All-Star closer Huston Street for a package of highly regarded Angels’ prospects. While the better known names were the players at AAA and AA, 2B Taylor Lindsey and reliever R.J. Alverez, who is currently with the big club, the deal also included SS Jose Rondon, who was considered by many the prospect with the most upside, and starting pitcher Elliot Morris, 22, who may have a chance to be next year’s Jesse Hahn.

Morris was drafted in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Angels in the 2013 draft out of Pierce College Junior College and has good size at six-feet-four, 210 lbs. to go along with a power fastball.

After some minor tinkering with a few mechanical issues by Storm pitching coach Bronswell Patrick, Morris has taken off. In eight starts with Lake Elsinore he posted a 3.56 ERA in 48 innings with a 33 to 11 strikeout-to-base-on-balls ratio.

Morris is relatively new to pitching and is still developing his secondary pitches, along with a cutter and two-seam fastball, but he has shown good fastball command and an ability to survive in the hitter-friendly Cal League.

A move to the friendly confines of Nelson Wolff Stadium in San Antonio, a big fastball and a refinement of his other pitches could spell a fast ticket to San Diego in 2015.

How did you hear that you got traded?

Elliot Morris: I heard about it after the game. Jose Rondon, my teammate on the 66ers, had been traded and that I heard there was another player involved in the deal too. Everyone was wondering who it would be and I never figured it would be me, but it was.

I packed my bags and left the next day.

That must be really strange to just go to another team in the league that you had pitched against?

Elliot Morris: It took me off guard, especially since it was my first full season and the Angels were the team that had drafted me. I was really comfortable with everyone over there.

But it has been a good adjustment because everyone has really gone out of there way to make me feel comfortable here as well.

You got traded in mid-season. So how did that go with the staff here? Did Bronswell Patrick, the pitching coach, here tell you anything that he wanted you to change?

Elliot Morris: It was a little weird, in the same league against a team that I had pitched against but Bronswell was open to what I was doing and my routine. He kind of let me go on my own for awhile and then once he had seen me a few times he started making suggestions, then I made some and we both kind of found a place where we could work.

We made some adjustments to my routine and they really worked.

What were some of the adjustments that he made?

Elliot Morris: He got me to take my time a little with my load, which is something that I had always struggled with and was working on with the Angels too; but he just said one thing and it worked great.

You have pitched really well here. How would you describe yourself as a pitcher?

Elliot Morris: I just try to give my team a chance to win. I mainly throw a four-seam fastball and I’m working on a two-seamer which Bronsie has been helping me with.

I’m also working with a cutter too.

If you throw mainly a four-seamer then you must really rely on command, since it is pretty much a straight fastball.

Elliot Morris: Yeah, a lot of it is just working in my bullpens trying to make sure my mechanics are where they need to be. I just try to take it pitch by pitch and not get too far ahead of myself.

What else do you throw?

Elliot Morris: I throw a slider and change-up. My slider I learned in spring along with the changeup and both have been coming along.

You went to Pierce College in Washington State. Did you have a chance to play professionally before you went to school?

Elliot Morris: After high school, junior college was really my only option. I had known the coach since I was thirteen years old, so it was a good fit.

When did you start getting scouted?

Elliot Morris: It started after I came back from Tommy John surgery of my first fall of junior college. After that we kind of changed some things with the pitching coach and I became more of a pitcher than the thrower that I was in high school.

I never really talked to the Angels that much before the draft, some other teams were much more interested. It kind of took me by surprise when they drafted me.

Where were you going to go if you hadn’t been drafted?

Elliot Morris: I was going to go pitch for the University of Idaho; but that was really all I had.

What has been the biggest adjustment for you since becoming a pro?

Elliot Morris: Just the routine. In college you throw once a week, here it is every five days. After you get drafted its about trying to get used to the routine. The next year is about implementing it.

In a way it seems like the Tommy John surgery made you stronger.

Elliot Morris: Yeah. I never used to do bands and they changed my mechanics to incorporate my legs more in my delivery. It took a lot of pressure off of my elbow and got my velocity up.

It seems like the biggest thing you are going to work on in the off-season is to master the two-seamer.

Elliot Morris: Yes. The good ones I throw have worked really well and it is a fun pitch to throw. Controlling it is another thing.

It looks like it is very tough to control.

Elliot Morris: It is tough to be consistent but Bronsie has really helped me a lot. You have to do your best to be consistent with it.

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