SYRACUSE, N.Y.—While the early indications are that the 2015 class of high school pitching will not match the strong class of 2014, the arms in the North have the potential to be a strong group, as some of the more talented arms in the class hail from non-traditional baseball states.
Although Maryland has produced only one high school pitcher to go in the top five rounds in the past 10 years (and two since 2000), righthander Cody Morris (Reservoir HS, Fulton, Md.) will likely draw crosscheckers to The Old Line State next spring after a strong summer and quick, efficient outing at East Coast Pro.
Morris came out with velocity, touching 94 three times while sitting 92-93 in the first inning before sitting 90-92 in his second and third frames. He has a quick arm and can get downhill plane from a high three-quarters arm slot, offering some sink at the bottom of the zone though the offering doesn’t have much lateral movement besides occasional arm-side run.
The South Carolina commit threw three scoreless frames, allowing two hits against no walks while striking out one on six swinging strikes. It took Morris only 29 pitches to get through his economical outing, pitching heavily off his fastball that he threw more than 80 percent of the time and that he threw twice in 0-2 counts. He exclusively throws four-seamers.
Morris’ delivery was improved and streamlined compared to earlier outings this summer at Perfect Game National and the Tournament of Stars. His lower half is not fully incorporated in his delivery and his front leg collapses after foot strike when his momentum comes forward, leaving him spinning off toward first base in a hunched position. While these elements still exist in his delivery, he demonstrated improvement and he was not falling off quite as severely.
“I made a few tweaks in my mechanics,” Morris said. “At TOS I was falling off pretty bad. I have been working with a few guys and that was one of the things we focused on.”
Another tweak that sent more of his momentum toward the plate and less spinning off toward the first base side was raising his glove extension to create a higher front side, now bringing his glove extension slightly above shoulder height.
“When I was coming up in my leg kick and breaking my hands, my hand was staying down,” Morris said. “So what we worked on was getting my arm up to keep my front side in. That was what really did it.”
Despite a delivery that is not conventional, Morris has the athleticism to throw strikes and has done so consistently this summer. Although some hitters swung at offerings out of the zone, Morris threw strikes on 82.7 percent of his pitches. He threw a total of two balls in his final two innings that comprised 12 pitches total.
Across two outings at the Tournament of Stars and his outings at PGN and ECP, Morris has not issued a walk in 10 innings, striking out 13 hitters. There were only four other pitchers that did not allow a walk in at least five innings at TOS. He was able to maintain his velocity better in Syracuse after largely sitting 88-90, touching 91 at TOS.
With a good pitcher’s body, velocity and strike-throwing ability, Morris has some of the elements scouts look for in starting pitchers. The development of his secondary stuff will be a key to his prospect status.
His favored secondary offering is a 77-80 mph changeup that he showed feel for, throwing it for strikes all four times he threw the offering with one swing and miss.
“When I was younger my dad never pushed me to throw a breaking ball, so I just messed around with my changeup,” Morris said. “I throw it with a weird grip where it just slides out and it looks like a slider. That has always been my No. 2 pitch.”
His changeup offers considerable tumble and flashed at least average potential, though it did not consistently play at that level, according to evaluators.
Morris only threw one breaking ball at 69 mph, which is 21 mph below his slowest fastball. He offers two seldom-used breaking balls.
“I am really working on my breaking ball at this point and getting it tighter,” Morris said. “It will come. The last couple of years I have started to throw it more. It is a tough pitch for me personally but when you look forward it is something that people can teach you how to throw a breaking ball. I am hoping that it will come in the next couple of years and I think it will.”
He weighed in at an official 6-foot-4, 200 pounds and has an athletic, projectable build with long extremities and room to get stronger. Morris, who will pitch at the Metropolitan Baseball Classic later this month, will shut down for the fall after Citi Field in order to work out and gain strength to his large frame.
Morris will likely be the first player ever drafted from his high school.