Baseball America

Jupiter Day 2: Josh Morgan Jumps Up

JUPITER, Fla.—In a class light on up-the-middle position players (aren’t they all?), shortstop Josh Morgan has had a strong month of October on both sides of the ball and went 3-for-3 with a double and a walk on the second day of the WWBA World Championship.

Morgan (Orange County Lutheran, Corona, Calif.), who also attended the Arizona Senior Fall Classic, has started to impact the baseball and drive the ball more authoritatively after making a few alterations at the end of the summer.

Although Morgan showed his defensive chops throughout the summer, he went 3-for-20 (.150) in a small sample at the Tournament of Stars and Area Code Games. At those events, Morgan showed an inconsistent, long stride that often left him hitting off his front foot.

“At Tournament of Stars I didn’t perform well, but I made some adjustments and now I feel more comfortable at the plate,” Morgan said. “I tried to make my stride a little smaller; I am trying to stay back more. And at Area Codes I was lunging at the plate.”

He has also altered his hands and load. His hands begin from a lower starting position and have a little more bat waggle before his load, which is now looser.

“I have much more relaxation in my stance,” Morgan said. “I was too tense and was swinging too hard, but I am getting my hands in a more natural position.”

At his best, Morgan has a quick hands and a compact stroke that creates consistent loud contact. Morgan had a handful of extra-base hits at the Arizona Senior Classic and his extra-base pop continued Friday in Jupiter, when he one hopped the left-field fence.

Morgan has soft hands, good actions, first-step quickness and defensive instincts to go with an above-average arm. The 6-foot, 185-pound Morgan, who has an athletic build with a strong lower half, looks noticeably different in a uniform.

“I heard one of the concerns from the scouts was that I might not be able to stay at short because of my body,” Morgan said. “So from the get-go, I immediately wanted to slim down because shortstop is my favorite position in the world. I focused on slimming down and working out a lot more, and especially eating right. I lost around 10 pounds and I feel a lot better. In all, I am trying to lose 15 pounds. I am not done slimming down, so it will keep going.”

He still has a powerful, athletic physique with strength throughout his build, wrists and forearms. Morgan is one of the top shortstops in the class. After posting average 60-yard dash times this summer, Morgan is also running better.

The UCLA commit was part of a loaded GBG Marucci Team that won its first game 5-4 against a very talented Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team. Kainoa “KJ” Harrison hit a solo home run to left field in his only plate appearance of the game. Harrison, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound righthanded-hitting catcher from Punahou High (Kailua, Hawaii), has a strong build and above-average arm behind the plate, to go with soft hands. He is coached in high school by his father, Kenny, who played in the Twins minor league system after an All-American career at the University of Hawaii. Harrison, who will not turn 18 until after draft day, is committed to Oregon State.

• East Cobb Baseball middle infielder Chandler Avant had two doubles in his first game of the day, the first a ground rule double to left field. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Avant has an athletic build with some present strength to his medium frame. The plus runner, who ran the East Coast Pro 60-yard dash in 6.57 seconds, who an aggressive stride at the plate has shown gap power in games. The Alabama commit from Pike School in Troy, Ala., has an average arm.

• After a strong showing at the Florida Diamond Club, during which he ran the 60-yard dash in 6.3 seconds and ran in the 4.0 range home to first, outfielder Todd Isaacs Jr. used his game-changing speed in game action for the Blue Jays Scout Team. In his first plate appearance of the day, the righthanded-hitting Isaacs dropped down a bunt single and got through first base in 3.8 seconds. Isaacs promptly stole both second and third. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Isaacs, who is uncommitted, has an average or better arm from the outfield. The American Heritage High in Plantation, Fla., product hits with a soft front leg and has some inconsistent parts to his lower half, but shows has quick hands and a direct, line-drive stroke.

• Marucci Elite righthander Branden Kelliher from Lake Stevens (Wash.) High threw his first pitch at 94 mph and didn’t throw a fastball below 91 from a high slot during his lone inning of work, during which he struggled to throw strikes and often left the ball up in the zone. His 77-80 mph overhand 12-6 curveball flashed average. The San Diego commit threw one changeup at 81.

• Dulin Dodgers 2015 righthander Gray Fenter from West Memphis (Ark.) High threw three innings and didn’t throw a fastball below 91 in his first two innings, pitching at 91-93. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Mississippi commit showed a low-80s breaking ball with two-plane break that had the makings of a solid offering.