Preston Morrison Joins 'From Phenom To The Farm:' Episode 70
On the mound, Preston Morrison just knew how to get guys out. He knew it. His high school coach at Cuthbertson HS in Waxhaw, N.C. knew it. His travel ball coach with the On Deck O’s knew it.
Division 1 coaches also knew it, but couldn’t bring themselves to sign an unconventional righthander—one who worked with command and movement instead of overwhelming velocity.
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“As a junior I was probably throwing 77 to 81—that’s not anything to look twice at,” said Morrison. “But, I was doing well enough where every time I was going out I was throwing five or six innings, not giving up any runs. I’m on the same team as guys that are committed to ACC schools, playing against Division 1 commits every weekend, getting them out.”
Morrison continued getting outs but not attention until catching the eye of then-TCU assistant coach Randy Mazey at a tournament the summer before his senior year. Soon both Mazey and head coach Jim Schlossnagle were sold on bringing the lanky righty to Forth Worth. For Morrison, all it took was one school to believe in him—which was good, because one was all he was getting.
“There was an ACC school that talked to me for over a year, just very informally. They saw me pitch probably 7 or 8 times,” said Morrison. “When TCU gave me an offer I told them about it, and they said, to paraphrase here, they said they didn’t have the balls to offer a kid that threw 81, even though they knew I would have success at the next level.”
At the time Morrison arrived to campus in the fall of 2011, TCU was just a year removed from a trip to the College World Series, and their recruiting class reflected a program of that caliber. From an outsider’s point of view, a guy with no other offers like Morrison wasn’t expected to contribute.
“There’s a blog that follows TCU baseball, and of course me in high school, I log on and figure out who all the other guys are,” said Morrison. “They rank all of the recruits, #1 through #20, and guess who’s last.”
Blogs and TCU’s opponents quickly got up to speed with Morrison’s aptitude on the hill. He earned a spot in the Horned Frog rotation midway through his freshman year, en-route to scooping up both the 2012 Mountain West Freshman and Pitcher of the Year awards.
TCU’s move to the Big 12 didn’t slow down Morrison. His sophomore, junior, and senior seasons all saw him named First-team All-Big 12, with his junior year netting him the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year honor. While Morrison had picked up a few ticks on his fastball, his stellar college career on the mound stemmed from the same formula as his success in high school: changing speeds and locating with deadly efficiency.
“I could wear out the space that’s between black of the plate and the chalk of the other batter’s box,” said Morrison.
Morrison turned his single Division 1 offer into four All-American seasons, two visits to the College World Series, and one of the better careers in recent college baseball history (career 1.85 ERA over 471.1 innings).
Following his senior season, however, Morrison got another reminder how a mid-80s fastball projects at a higher level of baseball. Despite all his accolades, following his senior year he signed on a steep discount as the Cubs 8th round pick.
“It’s always very humbling to tell people what that number was, when they hear ‘Oh you were a draft pick, All-American at TCU?’ Yeah, I made $40,000,” said Morrison.
Initially Morrison looked like he’d be just as much of a bargain for Chicago as he’d been for TCU, carrying a 2.11 ERA across Low-A and High-A during his first full season. However, ensuing two seasons at Double-A Tennessee were less than stellar, with Morrison struggling to harness his arsenal as effectively as he had in college, derailing his confidence.
Following the 2018 season, Morrison retired, and returned to Fort Worth to get his degree. His pro career had stalled sooner than he’d hoped, but his experience during his professional career allowed him to look back even more fondly on what he’d been able to accomplish with his lone offer.
“It did take me a really long time to get out of the TCU bubble, and think about other people that I was around in the Cubs organization, and how their college careers went or how their amateur careers went,” said Morrison. “Just to really appreciate what we were able to do.”
On the latest episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm’ four-time All-American righthander Preston Morrison joins to discuss his unlikely rise at TCU, pitching in Omaha in back-to-back seasons, and how to attack hitters with a mid-80s fastball.