The 2009 season has been a rough one for Morris. He started the year with a shoulder injury. He returned from that and struggled in his first two months back, with just three of his ten starts in June and July lasting five or more innings, with a 4.50 ERA or less. He showed a little more success in August, with three quality starts, but they were surrounded by two starts in which he allowed ten combined runs in 7.2 innings.
The outing tonight by Morris was fantastic. He made it through 6.2 innings pitched, needing just 66 pitches to do so. He faced 26 batters, and only needed three or fewer pitches for 20 of those batters. Morris was helped by two plays at the plate going in the Hillcats favor (batter 15 and batter 23 on the videos), but at the same time hurt by a poor series of relays on a sac fly in the second that resulted in his only run allowed (batter seven).
I was at the event and caught every pitch Morris threw on video. I also have a few key at-bats from Josh Harrison and Chase d’Arnaud. The first of those videos is d’Arnaud with an RBI single to tie the game at 1-1. The second video has d’Arnaud stealing second, then scoring on a Josh Harrison single. Later there’s Harrison ripping a shot down the left field line, bringing in three more runs. Finally there’s video of Noah Krol and Ronald Uviedo closing out the game, as well as the Hillcats celebrating (the end of Uviedo’s 4th batter, and busting out the champagne in the last video). Analysis after the videos:
Total Pitches: 66
1st Inning Pitches: 6
2nd Inning Pitches: 11
3rd Inning Pitches: 8
4th Inning Pitches: 10
7th Inning Pitches: 12
First Pitch Strikes: 13/26 batters
Total Pitches: 19
7th Inning Pitches: 5
8th Inning Pitches: 14
Total Pitches: 20
8th Inning Pitches: 4
9th Inning Pitches: 16
Jim at North Side Notch mentioned recently that more people seem to be focused on the Lynchburg Hillcats these days than the Pittsburgh Pirates. The reason for that is probably because there’s actually relevant baseball being played by the Hillcats right now, and I can say it’s very fun to watch.
Seeing Uviedo strike out the last batter and pump his fist for the victory was a nice sight. Seeing the team celebrating like that after the win was something we don’t usually get to see as Pirates fans.
The other reason for the focus on the Hillcats recently is because there’s a lot of legit prospects at the level. Most of them are a few years away, possibly arriving by mid-season 2011 at the earliest, but this is the start of the future of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The most important thing in the minors is the development of the player, however, it’s nice to see the teams achieve something in the process.
We saw plenty of minor league teams winning with Dave Littlefield running the show, and the reason for that usually was due to roster fillers who were too old for the level, and weren’t legit prospects. You don’t have that with this team, which is why this is an exciting run.
As for Bryan Morris, again I say it was a fantastic outing. I’ll have an interview with him that will go up this week. This outing, and the interview, will help explain why I think it’s way too early to be writing him off as a top pitching prospect.
I’ll be going to the Hillcats game tonight as they take on the Salem Red Sox in the Mills Cup Championship Series. The series between these two teams has been pretty even, with Lynchburg leading 11-10 this year. You can follow my Twitter updates from the event by going here, or just refreshing the home page and getting the latest updates on the side bar.