Gareth Morgan Begins to Assemble His Puzzle

Outfielder Gareth Morgan is back on the Mariners’ radar after spending much of the last few seasons playing his way into the shadows.

Still just 21, Morgan has become a steady producer this season at low Class A Clinton and is showing signs of reaching the potential the Mariners envisioned when they drafted the Toronto prep in the supplemental second round in 2014 and signed him for $2 million.

“I can’t specifically tell you that he did ‘this’ and got ‘this’ result,” farm director Andy McKay sand. “I was there for six days, and I saw a kid who is gaining a level of comfort, a level of confidence in himself.

“He seems happier. He’s enjoying himself. There’s just a lightness to him that I had not seen previously.”

Morgan agreed that he has “evolved a lot” in making the transition to pro ball. He once saw his size—6-foot-4, 220 pounds—as a mandate to hit for power.

That led to a lot of sell-out swings and too many strikeouts: 40 percent of the time in his four pro seasons. Thus Morgan did not rank among the organization’s top 30 prospects despite playing in a thin system.

“Sometimes players develop in very sequential-type building blocks,” McKay said. “Step one, step two, step three. Other times, it’s just a scrambled bunch of puzzle pieces that you’re trying to fit together.

“I think a lot of pieces in his puzzle are starting to fall into place for him.”

Morgan, a righthanded batter, remains a work in progress. He still strikes out too much, but he’s also working deeper counts, making more consistent contact and is content to let the power come naturally.

He hit .240/.309/.390 through 40 games, and while modest, they all are on track to be career highs.

“If you look at Gareth Morgan and can’t see a big leaguer,” McKay said, “you’d have to explain that one to me.”

— Bob Dutton covers the Mariners for the Tacoma News Tribune

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