MINNEAPOLIS — King High in Tampa has produced a single-digit draft pick each of the past two years and that streak looks like it will continue after righthander Brett Morales shined on the mound on the second day of the Perfect Game National Showcase at the Metrodome.
Morales had plenty of scouting attention this spring, as he was teammates with White Sox supplemental first round first baseman Keon Barnum. But Morales mostly pitched in relief for the Lions.
"I was a starter, but our second baseman got suspended, so I had to play second base for six weeks because we didn't have a second baseman," Morales said. "So then I would relieve instead of starting the game, so I could play second base."
Morales has been playing baseball his entire life, but he's mostly been an infielder, moving between shortstop, third base and second base. It wasn't until this past year that he really started seriously focusing on pitching.
Already, he shows a fastball in the 90-92 mph range and touched 93. He has an athletic, 6-foot-2, 185-pound build and a loose, effortless delivery. Morales mixes in a very good 78-79 mph circle changeup and a mid-70s 12-6 curveball. He pounded the strike zone with all three of his pitches.
"My fastball is my main pitch, obviously," Morales said. "But my changeup would be my go-to pitch for either a strikeout or to get ahead in the count because I feel more comfortable with it. It's probably been my best pitch since I started pitching. The changeup looks so much like my fastball, I usually throw it when the hitter is on my fastball, just to get them off balance and then later in the count, get them with my fastball again.
"The changeup's always been my best pitch," Morales said. "My curveball's never been deadly enough to make that my go-to pitch, so the changeup's always been my favorite and my best pitch."
The manager for Morales' summer travel team, Matt Gerber from the Orlando Scropions, was not surprised upon hearing how well Morales pitched at the event.
"He's been pitching like that for us for the past 12 months," Gerber said. "We're happy for him to get up there and get in front of some big-time guys and make an impression. He's our best arm and is that way every time out, the way he threw up there."
Morales is not yet committed to a college, but should have plenty of options and offers plenty of intrigue for coaches and scouts because of his athleticism and advanced feel.
"The great thing about him is that he's just figuring out how good he is on the mound," Gerber said. "Because he can swing the bat and was kind of recruited as a shortstop. But when he came to us, we saw him throw at our workout two falls ago now and said, 'Brett, if you focus on the mound, I think you've got some pretty special things you can do.' And he's kind of taken ownership of that and obviously he has really good stuff.
"It just comes out so easy and he repeats his delivery well and obviously the changeup is a plus plus pitch. I mean for a kid that age with, truthfully, not that much experience on the mound, to be able to have that much command and that much feel for a changeup is pretty impressive. He'll throw that thing 2-0 to a four-hole righthanded hitter and get swings and misses on it."
In addition to that, Morales also shows good makeup and character off the mound.
"He's a great kid, kind of soft spoken, but at the same time pretty confident," Gerber said. "We're happy for him with the way he performed up there and obviously he has some things coming his way here in the next few years."