Mets’ Morris Ready For Second Try

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.—Righthander Akeel Morris still cherishes his major league debut, even if it left him with a 67.50 ERA that he is unlikely to reduce for a while.

Morris had been summoned all the way from high Class A St. Lucie last June because he was on the 40-man roster and the Mets needed a safety net with their bullpen overworked. Before Morris returned to the minors, manager Terry Collins decided to give him a taste of the big leagues by inserting him against the revered Toronto Blue Jays lineup.

Entering last June 17 with the Mets trailing 3-0 in the eighth inning, Morris consecutively walked Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista to begin his appearance. Morris eventually surrendered a three-run home run to Danny Valencia to cap the five-run frame in Toronto’s 8-0 win.

“I learned from the experience—learned to slow it down and stay within yourself, don’t try to do too much,” said Morris, a 10th-round pick in 2010 from the U.S. Virgin Islands. “The game kind of sped up on me.”

Morris nonetheless became the 12th player born in the U.S. Virgin Islands to appear in the majors. The last was infielder Callix Crabbe, who appeared in 21 games with the Padres in 2008.

Morris, 23, has posted gaudy ERAs in each of his past three seasons in the minors. He had a 1.00 ERA with short-season Brooklyn in 2013, then a 0.63 ERA in 2014 with low Class A Savannah. Before the promotion to the majors, he had a 1.69 ERA and 13 saves in 14 chances with St. Lucie.

After facing the Blue Jays, Morris headed to Double-A Binghamton. He had a 2.45 ERA in 23 relief appearances the remainder of the season.

“I started out a little shaky at Binghamton,” Morris said. “I finished real strong.”

As for what he needs to polish before getting another shot in the majors to chip away at his unsightly ERA, Morris said: “I’ve been working on keeping the ball down. And my slider has been coming along.”


• Catching prospect Xorge Carrillo fractured his hand in the finale of the championship series in winter ball in Mexico, depriving him of a chance to participate in big league camp.

Dilson Herrera is due to represent his native Colombia in a World Baseball Classic qualifier in Panama City this month.

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