- Full name Kendrys Morales
- Born 06/20/1983 in Fomento, Cuba
- Profile Ht.: 6'1" / Wt.: 242 / Bats: S / Throws: R
- Debut 05/23/2006
Organization Prospect Rankings
Omar Linares and Morales are the best position players developed in post-revolution Cuba. The government banned him from baseball after repeated attempts to defect, and he finally succeeded in June 2004. The Angels boasted Morales would compete for a spot on their Opening Day roster when they signed him in November 2004 to a six-year major league contract that could be worth as much as $10 million. Visa problems prevented him from attending spring training, however. After arriving in the United States in May, he homered on his first swing and quickly earned a promotion from high Class A to Double-A. He also batted .380 in the Arizona Fall League. Morales is a mature hitter with above-average power from both sides of the plate. He repeats his swing better from the left side, where he's more comfortable and makes better contact. When he keeps his hands and weight back, he generates good bat speed and power to all fields. Most scouts say Morales lacks the agility and athleticism to play anywhere but first base. While his hands are OK, his footwork needs to improve. He has too much movement in his swing, and tends to drift and reach for offspeed stuff. He can get pull-conscious. With Darin Erstad and Casey Kotchman ahead of him at first base, Morales might spend another full season in the minors, probably in Triple-A. His best fit with the Angels could be as a DH.
Morales signed a six-year major league contract in December, which included a $3 million bonus and could be worth as much as $10 million. In 2002, he became the first teenager to star for Cuba's national team since Omar Linares, but the government later banned him after repeated attempts to defect. He succeeded in June and established residency in the Dominican Republic, making him a free agent. Morales ranks with Linares as the best position player developed in post-revolution Cuba. He profiles as a middle-of-the-order run producer, with a level swing from both sides, power to all fields and an aggressive approach. Morales' speed is average at best, leading to questions about his defense. A first baseman on Cuba's national team in 2003, he has a plus arm and instincts to become a reliable corner outfielder. The Angels believe Morales is ready to contribute in the majors and will give him a chance to win a job this spring. He must overcome culture shock, obstacles that have waylaid several highly touted Cuban defectors in the past.
Minor League Top Prospects
Morales was one of the better-known names in the league because he signed a major league contract with a $3 million bonus last winter after defecting from Cuba. Because of visa complications he didn't get to begin his season until late May, playing 22 games in high Class A before coming to Arkansas in mid-June. Morales made a bad first impression, with his average sitting at .240 in mid-August, and those who saw him early called him a huge disappointment. "If you make pitches," Runnels said, "you can get him out." But he was on fire by the end of the year, showing the nice swing and plus power from both sides of the plate that prompted the Angels to sign him. After getting some time at third base and right field in Class A, Morales stayed at first base with the Travelers. An average defender there, he has a strong arm and improved his range, but he's a below-average runner.