Friday, April 2, 2010
Logan Morrison on cusp of big stage
By Jerry Crasnick
JUPITER, Fla. -- Marlins prospect Logan Morrison is routinely lauded for his plate discipline. But it's no more impressive than the judgment he's displayed in his choice of baseball role models.
Morrison, a Kansas City native, targeted Royals third baseman, 13-time All-Star and first-ballot Hall of Famer George Brett as his personal favorite at an early age. He also spent a year playing ball at Maple Woods Community College, the school that produced Albert Pujols, and met Pujols in December 2006 when the Cardinals star showed up to do a clinic.
"I saw him do some amazing things off the tee and in the cage,'' Morrison said. "You can tell he's just a different player than anybody else. If I could be half the player he is, I think I'd have a pretty good career.''
Morrison, 22, has the type of varied skill set that inspires big dreams. He runs well for a 6-foot-3, 245-pounder, is improving defensively and has a knack for hitting the ball to all fields. His fluid swing has elicited comparisons to Mark Grace, and he approaches the game with a professionalism and determination fueled by high expectations.
After hitting .277 in 79 games with Double-A Jacksonville last season, Morrison arrived at Marlins camp prepared to compete with Gaby Sanchez for the starting first base job. A 1-for-19 start put a crimp in his chances of breaking camp with the big club, and he was officially sent to minor league camp on Monday. His arrival in the majors is strictly a question of "when" rather than "if." His biggest challenge is finding a way to let the 0-fers slide.
"He's definitely got an eye for the game,'' infielder Wes Helms said. "He's mentally into it every day. He just needs to get some games under his belt and mature a little bit. He's a kid and he's very hard on himself sometimes. I saw that early in camp.''
No matter where he plays, Morrison knows his way around the strike zone. Although his plate appearances were limited by a broken thumb last year in Jacksonville, he struck out 46 times and drew 63 walks. That kind of ratio is sure to make him a stat-geek icon when he does arrive in Florida.
Morrison credits his strike zone awareness to his father, Tom, a former Kansas football player who stressed the importance of selectivity while throwing him round after round of batting practice.
"You're only as good as the pitch you swing at,'' Morrison said. "That's been embedded in me from my dad to all the hitting coaches I had coming up. Anytime I can be on base, it's a good thing for our team, and anytime I can drive in a run is also a good thing. If I'm swinging at bad pitches, I'm not doing any of those things.''
The consensus is that Morrison has 20-25 homer potential when his power catches up to his skill. All in due time. He and outfielder Mike Stanton, who has 67 homers in his last two minor league seasons, will give Florida a pair of formidable young bats to complement perennial MVP candidate Hanley Ramirez.
"You're going to see him up here soon,'' Helms said of Morrison. "And you're going to see him up here for a long time.''
|Logan Morrison, 22, will start the season in the minor leagues.|
Jerry Crasnick is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Click here to purchase a copy of his book, "License To Deal," published by Rodale. Crasnick can be reached via e-mail.