When Bryan Morris was moved full time to the bullpen a month ago, I profiled his situation, and asked Pirates’ farm director Kyle Stark what Morris had to work on going forward. This is what was said:
“He’s definitely working on consistently repeating his delivery, which he was last year as well, but the strained oblique interrupted that process this year and has prevented Bryan from getting into a rhythm,” Stark said. “We’re hopeful that he is on his way now.”
Since that time, Morris has been on fire in the bullpen. He’s pitched 15 innings without an earned run, allowing nine hits, and putting up a 17:3 K/BB ratio during that stretch. The performance raises questions as to whether Morris could make it to Pittsburgh by the end of the season, possibly as a September call-up. I’m not suggesting that the Pirates should rush Morris, but giving him a call in September, and jumping him over AAA, might not be the worst idea.
Morris will have one option year remaining after the 2011 season. That means he will have to be in the majors full time by 2013. The Pirates could give him time in AAA in 2012, but at some point they’re going to have to let him get adjusted to the majors. Right now, with his success at the back of the bullpen, he might warrant that September call-up.
Even though Morris was moved full time to the bullpen, there’s always the chance that he could move back to the rotation. In fact, Kyle Stark mentioned that this was something Morris could control, and something his future performance would dictate. Morris wouldn’t be the first prospect to make his debut in the bullpen before moving to the starting rotation. The Kansas City Royals are currently taking that approach with Aaron Crow, who also skipped over AAA. Perhaps Morris could be the Pirates’ version of Crow. Maybe he sticks around in the bullpen, and turns in to a late inning reliever and an eventual closer for when Joel Hanrahan departs sometime in the next few years. At any rate, it’s nice to see him turning things around in Altoona, even if he hasn’t remained in the starting role.