Pirates Acquire First Baseman Hunter Morris From Milwaukee

The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired first baseman Hunter Morris from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for a player to be named, the team announced. Morris spent most of the 2014 season in Triple-A, putting up a .772 OPS in the PCL over 356 plate appearances. That was during his age 25 season. He wasn’t on the 40-man roster for the Brewers, so no corresponding move will need to be made. He also wasn’t rated among Baseball America’s top 30 prospects in the Milwaukee farm system, and that’s one of the weakest systems in the game.

My guess is that Morris will play first base for Indianapolis this year. I may be reading into things too much, but that could signal what the Pirates will be doing with their MLB roster. Their current plans are to go with Deibinson Romero and Brent Morel at first and third base in Triple-A. Morris would join that mix. However, if Andrew Lambo is sent down, there would be no reason to have Morris on the roster at all. Without Lambo, the Pirates just have two third basemen splitting time at first base. My initial thought here is that this is in preparation for Lambo making the team, while giving Indianapolis a true first baseman.

  • Why is it that so many people expect our depth in AAA to be awesome MLB options. They are not on the 25 man roster for a reason. They aren’t good enough to crack the Pirates roster unless there is an injury. WHICH IS WHAT THEY ARE THERE FOR ! How many potential major league starters are in AAA other than the highly rated prospects who are preparing to be impact major leaguer’s or rehabing players Few if any or they would be on Major league rosters. This is what DEPTH looks like. Morel and Morris. They will step in if there is an emergency.

    • Chris- I don’t think anyone “expects” it, but quite honestly, a lot of our depth options especially pitching MAY be better than the backups in the ML due solely to their “options” or more simply, roster status. IMO- Sanchez is better overall than Stewart, yet Sanchez will be in AAA, as would Diaz, whom I also feel is better (even today) than Stewart. Again, this is just opinion, so i’m not going to argue about it. Outfield, Tabata would be on a LOT of rosters and if not for his guaranteed money, never would have survived his first DFA. Lambo would be on most rosters, Decker would be on a bunch, Hansen would already be playing on a handful of teams already……and the pitching depth is almost ALL able to pitch somewhere in the majors right now. Quite simply, we are starting to get a little used to this after years of having an awful system.

      • Luke sutton
        April 3, 2015 2:33 am

        I feel for the poor teams that would be playing Tabata and Decker in the bigs. Not to say i dislike the entire game of either guys, but thats not ML quality talent for contending teams. Its good depth in case of the plague hitting your team.

        • Jose Tabata is a league-average hitter over his 1700 PA career.

          Look around the league at the guys teams are employing as 4th or 5th outfielders. Tabata would unquestionably be on a big league roster somewhere, and it’s not even close.

          • I agree Tabata could find work somewhere, just not the idea that a LOT of teams would be wanting him. I didnt make that clear, but i dont see a “lot” of teams having him. League average type hitter with little power and at this point average at best defense. Useable for some teams, but likely not a ton of teams.

            • Just remember, the defending World Series Champions were starting Travis Ishikawa. In left field.

        • Luke- while i agree with you that they would likely not be on an opening day roster of most “contending teams”, you have to realize that only about half the teams in the ML are truly contending teams, which would leave about half that they could be on the active roster as. Most contending teams I think would be pleased to have them as their AAA depth compared to what they have currently although I haven’t pooled the GM’s just yet.

          – Even so, look at some of the garbage that was able to find 50 AB or more on the teams who finished .500 or above last year, and after you do that, you might find you’ve changed your mind

  • Tim,

    What are the percentage breakdowns of how the Pirates assign their scouting resources to MLB, the minor league systems, and amateur baseball? I assume they have specialists in each arena, and that they must maintain “books” on every player in Major and Minor League baseball with grades assigned to each player which become the basis of valuing trades. But where do the Pirates actually expend most of their scouting resources?

    • If anyone outside Pirates management knows the answer to this question I would be astounded…

      • one possibility, with Decker and Sellers on the dl, Lambo goes to Indy to play outfield

        • Luke sutton
          April 3, 2015 2:25 am

          Pretty crowded OF already, you have Decker/Rojas/Tabata/Gorkys. If you keep Florimon and throw Lambo in AAA….how the heck are those 5 guys gonna get enough playing time?

          • decker is on disabled list with serious calf injury

            • Right….but that still leaves 4 guys and when Decker comes back he has nowhere to go. Lambo in AAA really doesnt have a spot unless they move an OF.

              • good point, personally, I am rooting for lambo to make it, I’m intrigued with him

        • decker is on disabled list with serious calf injury

  • Hunter Morris was Brewers #10 prospect in the BA book last year. Morris unfortunately didn’t improve a whole lot his 2nd year in AAA. Disappointing, especially for the PCL. Morris’ stock has seen some decline…he was a #2 pick out of HS and then a #4 after 3 years at Auburn. He had one excellent year at AA and has been just ok other than that. He was the #4 ranked prospect going into 2013. Like Tim said though, weak organization as far as talent. Kind of crazy for him to drop completely out of the rankings though. Seems he should at least be in the top 25 still. His age and the poor AAA repeat in a hitters league most have gotten them off of him. 4 to 10 to unranked is odd though.

    • Thanks Freddy, it seems he had a fall very similar to Lambo in terms of prospect status. Unfortunately playing well a third year in AAA still won’t gain him any followers- it’s hard to overcome that at this point

      • He was in line for the big half of Milwaukee’s 1B platoon last year before break his wrist or something like that, FWIW.

        • That can definitely derail a prospect status for sure. If thats the case, he could be a player that has the ability to add value later in the year or in 2016

  • Monsoon Harvard
    April 2, 2015 1:00 pm

    Also, Andrew McCutchen’s health is questionable so they need to make sure they outfield depth more than infield depth right now, even though they already have infield depth. I think this also will be a factor pointing to Lambo making the team.

    • What are you smoking exactly? damn near everyone on our roster can play outfield

    • pilbobuggins
      April 2, 2015 2:01 pm

      While McCutchen is a large part of the pirates success I don’t see his health being a factor in this. I do agree with you and tim as far as this pointing to lambo making the team. I will add a word of caution though, when has the way something was pointing had much if anything to do with what this fo actually does? (Not for or against this, I’m just saying)

  • Dante Moreno
    April 2, 2015 12:34 pm

    Yay get to watch lambo look clueless again for the 3rd straight year

    • Just like Pearce, Moss, and Bautista did…..

    • When has lambo gotten enough AB for you to know one way or the other? Besides, 69 mlb AB and a .246 avg and 7 XBH is hardly looking clueless.

    • You must be watching pretty closely to see how clueless he is. Well not so much in 2013 when he was actually league average 98 OPS+, but definitely last year in 39 PAs, you had to have the magnifying glass out. Maybe they’ll really make you suffer this year and give him 40 or 50 PAs.

  • Monsoon Harvard
    April 2, 2015 12:06 pm

    That pinch hit double last night that Lambo hit to lead off the 8th inning which eventually scored him with the game-tying run certainly helped his chances. It’s just what his role will be, and anytime he excels in that role he makes Clint Hurdle happy.

    • Off a LHP no less

      • pilbobuggins
        April 2, 2015 2:04 pm

        I still and will always remeber lambo’s homer off the reds to drive the final nail in the reds coffin, I know that game was over and I think meaningless by then. It was however a very good ending to 20 years of frustration.

  • Maybe Florimon will go back the other way? Or Morel? Just a swap of depth guys to open spots for more interesting players or something like that?

    • I don’t think Florimon can be a PTBNL. As for Morel, there would be no reason to make him a PTBNL. He could just be traded.

      It’s possible there is no player. The Pirates made a small move for Keon Broxton last year, and there was no one sent the other way.

      • Ah, I see. Well, if this does portent Lambo making the roster, I wonder if the front office is looking for a taker for Florimon in a minor deal. I’m sure he wouldn’t clear waivers. Though, knowing he was going to be free, I’m not sure anyone would grab him before then.

        • ResistanceIsUseless
          April 2, 2015 12:04 pm

          That can come down do whether a team has a need for that (type of) player and where they fall in being able to make a waiver claim. IF they want the guy, but are last in line to get him through waivers, they might make a trade. It usually won’t be a big return, but it’s more than nothing.

          • Yup, more than nothing is often better than nothing, and I don’t think the Pirates are super fond of just losing assets for free.

      • I would guess the Brewers don’t want Morel back anyways.

    • I don’t think anything going back would be more than mid level organizational depth, which is exactly what hunter is, maybe a minor league relief pitcher

  • Why is Brent Morel still around? Does anyone have insight into what the team sees in him? I hope he doesn’t take at-bats away from Romero at 3B, who is somewhat interesting.

    • ResistanceIsUseless
      April 2, 2015 11:08 am

      “Why is Brent Morel still around?” Somebody has to play 3rd for Indy. Not sure what the plan is with Romero, but his offensive numbers in AAA don’t look that much better than Morel’s, while his defense looks worse. Morel looks to have more flexibility, so maybe he’ll get starts elsewhere.

      • The point is that Morel has about 700 PAs in MLB, and has been pretty bad. Romero has never played in the majors, and his minor league numbers indicate that he could be ok if given the chance. I’d rather have the unkown quantity(Romero) get playing time instead of the guy who has already proven that he isn’t very good.

        • Romero is 28 years old and I’m not sure where you’re getting the impression that he could be OK at the MLB level. His minor league track record is better than Morel’s but it’s still not too great. He seems to come with injury concerns as well.

          I ‘spose it’s possible that Romero would be a fine plan C (I assume Kang or somebody else is plan B at the MLB level) call-up option– there are always guys who bloom late. But if you’re looking for late bloomers, you’re just throwing long dice. There’s probably just as much chance that Morel figures things out and blooms as well.

          • Basically the only reason folks are interested in Romero is because he came in with he highest WAR projection of any Minor League Free Agent this winter, a distinction also shared in 2014 by Yangervis Solarte.

            http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-top-minor-league-free-agents-by-the-projections/

          • Romero’s ZiPs projection is for a wrc+ of 84 next year, which to me would be ok for a reserve who is only used in case of emergency, which is exactly what he is. He is certainly a long-shot, and is probably not a solid MLB player, but Morel is *definitely* not a MLB player. Romero has a hope of beiing something. Morel has been dismal, and there’s really no reason to think he won’t keep being dismal.

            • Fair enough. But there’s still an issue of speculating that one guy with a not-too-great track record could handle the majors, while conclusively saying that another guy with a not-too-great track record definitely can’t. It seems inconsistent to me to believe that Romero could be OK while saying that there’s no way Morel could.

              I ‘spose the answer will play itself out. If one or the other starts crushing it in Indy, they’ll be the call-up guy. Unless they want defense: Morel’s defense is pretty darn good; not sure about Romero’s.

              • Bottom line: hopefully the Bucs don’t need either of them, because to be honest, neither of them inspires much confidence!

        • Not commenting about this specific instance, but this aspect of baseball mentality has always intrigued me…

          “He’s a known quantity.”

          “Yeah, but we we know he’s not very good.”

          “True, but we don’t know anything about the other guy…so, let’s stick with what we know.”

          • Blaine- this is one area where I can’t agree with you more. Maybe because I was one of those guys in high school and div. III ball who consistently always hit. 400 at every level while people said…….he’s too short, too slow, doesn’t hit for power, lets just keep using this tall strong guy who sucks at baseball and can’t field very well. An unknown quanity is ALWAYS better than someone who’s already gotten ample opportunity and failed. Give the shot to someone else! If they fail, guess what, there is another player whom would give anything for a shot, sometimes you are surprised and you get Garrett Jones, You get Dustin Pedroia, you get David Eckstein. Closed minded people really make no sense

            • Luke sutton
              April 3, 2015 2:22 am

              But for every Jones story, there are about 50 “Jones’s” that dont pan out. You kinda frame it as if the next guy up is likely to be Pedroia or Jones, when its really not the rule that the next guy up is likely a good/better shot. Because the idea that an unknown is always better than someone who had previously done poorly means you always get rid of guys that can, and have, figured it out a bit later and been huge successes.

              I can counter your list with the Jose Bautista’s of the world that were “failures” for awhile. Its about balancing what you see in players, not assuming a guy who struggles for a few years is likely to always do so and the unknown behind him is a better shot.

              • The Pirates version of Jose Bautista was not what I’d call a “failure”; he was just a player who was struggling, and if he had not improved from that, could have been a guy you have around as a bench player that can play corner outfield and third base. Brent Morel is an absolute failure in his major league career of which the sample size is 700 plate apperances. The Pirate’s version of Bautista was a good bit better than Brent Morel has been.

                • Luke sutton
                  April 3, 2015 5:50 pm

                  But at that point its quibbling over semantics and the difference between “failure” and “struggling”. The overall point was that its misguided to always assume a “struggling” or “failure” guy is automatically worse than the unknown on the bench.

                  Its also revising history just a bit to suggest that Bautista wasnt struggling badly enough that he couldnt be used as a bench man. He was 27, had never hit over .255 in a year where he got more than 30 at bats, and appeared to have teens pop. Maybe a struggling team uses that off the bench as a 4th OFer, but as a corner OF/corner IF man his power was subpar and his ability to get on was lacking.

                  Again, i really dont argue that Morel is a future breakout option. I argue the idea that the unknown is always better than the known bad player is not wise.

                  • Bautista, as a pirate, had a wrc+ of 96, 97, and 86 in his two full seasons, and last partial season, in that order. That is fine for a bench player. The biggest issue was that he was an awful third baseman. A league-average hitter that plays awful defense, as he did at third, doesn’t have a ton of value. But if the team had given up on him being an infielder, I’d take a slightly less than average hitter who plays mediocre corner outfield defense on my bench for most teams. Not a great player, by any means, but still a guy that could have floated around the league giving teams mediocre production for several seasons. Definitely more than a difference of semantics between a Pirates-era Jose Bautista and Brent Morel.

              • Luke- in no way was bautista ever a failure. He wasn’t really expected to be more than he was, which was a decent ballplayer. In no sense was he ever a player who didn’t belong on a major league roster. At the time we traded him, he would have been on the ML active roster for every team in the league, just not starting on many. That isn’t a failure and i’m not sure where you even pulled him out. Making a comparison of Morel vs. Bautista in Pittsburgh is laughable and ridiculous quite honestly. You haven’t said a single thing as of yet to even come close to helping you make your point

                • Luke sutton
                  April 6, 2015 1:38 am

                  Revisionist history to act like Bautista was never a failure. He was a marginal hitter who could only play spots that required more than teens pop. He was a guy no one really wanted, and it took a rather fortunate change in his swing to make him what he is. Its making excuses for the guys that do what he did to act like they werent rather proven scrap heap guys at the point the left.

                  If you pay attention, i didnt compare the players. I made a comparison of the situation when you say that Morel is for sure always going to play at his current not ML level, and that the next man up is always better. Which is disproven by guys like Bautista who absolutely had proven they werent good and the next man up assuredly was a better option via your theory. But they worked with him, gave him another shot and it worked. Thus, the next man up is not always better than the current. Brent Morel may suck now, and may always be such. But to assume that is asinine, as is assuming that someone behind him will always do better.

                  Brent Morel isnt Bautista, but the point is that a player being crappy doesnt mean he is likely to always be such and that his replacement is likely to be an improvement.

                  • No one is assuming that Romero will be better than Morel. There is a difference between thinking he should get a chance, and assuming success.

            • Pro tip: very few things in this world are worthy of all-caps “always”.

              • I’ve been leaving comments here as long as you have- you can keep your condescending tips, I’ll stick to my all caps “always” because I used it exactly as intended.

    • Better question is why is Sean Rod still around – he has done nothing to earn a spot on the opening day roster – waive him and keep Floriman would be the right move IMHO…

      • Bruce- he wasn’t trying to earn a spot on the roster, he already was guaranteed it. He was just getting ready for the season. Because of that, it’s hard to gauge how he’s played since he’s not really “competing” Florimon, competing for a roster spot, wasn’t getting ready for the season, this WAS his season. Can’t really compare….

  • PTBN? Decker? Sellers?

    Is the first of a couple of moves?

    Of course that means Lambo to AAA.
    What else?

    • Travis Persinger
      April 2, 2015 10:43 am

      This move would imply Lambo to Pittsburgh not Indy…

    • I would think this means Lambo to Pittsburgh otherwise there wouldn’t be room in Indy to see if Morris can develop more.

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