George, Morillo Becoming More Versatile

While MLB spring training position battles are now months behind us, rookie league baseball is just heating up. The short season team Princeton Rays are looking to make their infielders as versatile as possibly by putting them at different positions, and P-Rays manager Michael Johns has to find ways to maximize their playing time.

Princeton Rays infielders Darryl George and Julian Morillo come from two different parts of the world, but they have found themselves together in one part of a baseball diamond – third base.

George grew up in Australia, where baseball is barely relevant, but he became involved with the sport early on and always had a dream to play professional baseball. Morillo was raised in The Dominican Republic, where baseball has emerged as the most popular sport on their side of the island.

They both came to America to play pro ball, and ended up as teammates last year for the Gulf Coast League Rays. Neither of them impressed anyone – George hit .243 while Morillo hit .194, but they came to Princeton this season with another chance to show everyone what they could offer. George started the year with the team's top batting average, but Morillo has since surpassed him and now has a whopping .375 average.

None of this was expected after their poor seasons in the GCL, but manager Michael Johns took notice of their work ethic as soon as the season began. As they continue to succeed, it has made it difficult for him to decide who should start.

"Right out of the gate, they both came here and started the fight for third base," he explained. "They're doing a good job and this has made it tough for me to make a lineup."

George and Morillo have been splitting time at third base, but they have also played other positions. According to George, the Rays also have a goal of teaching their infielders to play different positions in order to make them more versatile and increase their playing time.

"It fits in with the big league team, where a lot of guys can play a lot of different positions," he said. "I guess the theory behind it is that the more positions I can play, the more at-bats I can get."

George's primary position is third base, but he has played first base this year and has been practicing to play multiple positions. He even has practiced in the outfield by taking fly balls just in case. In the games George has played at first base, he has looked sharp and it was easy to tell that he had been there before.

No matter where these players are assigned to play on the field, they just seem to be happy to be getting the at-bats. George and Morillo will likely continue to split time at third depending on how well they hit going forward, but they are totally fine with it.

"Wherever I am in the lineup, hopefully I can just get it done," said George.

Matt Tracy is the Princeton beat writer for Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @matthewtracy.


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