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Brandon Morrow, RHP

Posted by Jason A. Churchill on June 6, 2006

The Seattle Mariners passed up the best available player to tab right-hander Brandon Morrow as the No. 5 pick in the 2006 First-Year Players Draft.

The Cal-Berkley product put up some impressive numbers this spring, and while he won't make anyone forget about Randy Johnson or, ahem, Andrew Miller, Morrow is a solid prospect.

At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Morrow is near prototypical size for a big-league starting pitcher, and his arm is as sound as any in the entire draft.

Morrow uses a plus-plus fastball to set up a plus-splitter, which serves as his out pitch. He's had command issues in the past but improved his walk rates this season.

Pac-10 hitters batted just .208 against Morrow this season and in April, he allowed just three extra-base hits.

But how does this all translate to the pro game?


Here's the scouting report.

Fastball: 70

Morrow sits 93-96 with his four-seam fastball that will reach 98-99 at times. He gets enough movement to work in the upper half as he moves the pitch across the strike zone.

Split-Finger: 60

Usually sitting in the mid-80s, he developed the splitter after struggling to find a feel for a breaking ball and change. He's very much like current Mariners closer J.J. Putz in this manner.

Curve Ball: 40

It's likely that he'll scrap the slider altogether and concentrate on improving his curve ball to give hitters a different look. It's a work-in-progress at this point, which probably adds a year to his timetable in the minor leagues.

Command: 45

Much improved from previous seasons, Morrow's control was the key to his success, and his draft stock. But he'll need to continue to develop better command through a consistent release point.

Strengths: Not unlike Max Scherzer, Morrow is a no-nonsense pitcher who comes right after hitters with an aggressive diet of hard stuff. His fastball is devastating and the split-finger may turn out to be his golden ticket to the majors.

Morrow's size is ideal and he should have very little issues physically with remaining in the starting role.

His mechanics are solid and may be altered slightly to assist in better control

Weaknesses: Control will be the key to Morrow's career, as it is with most arms. Adding a useful curve ball is the likely difference between Morrow the closer and Morrow the front-line starting pitcher.

He's capable of developing into a 200-inning starter with better than league average results.

Overall: Morrow wasn't the glamour selection many were hoping for, but he was safer than Tim Lincecum and grossly cheaper than Andrew Miller.

For those ticked off about passing on Miller, think about it this way…

Imagine last winter that the M's had a chance to sign Brian Giles instead of, say, Jacque Jones but Giles was going to cost nearly three times as much as Jones and more than twice his market value – making him a 17 mil man – would you have advocated that decision?

Not any of the smart ones would have. That's complete idiocy.

The only way the M's, or Detroit who took him at No. 6, could have justified taking Miller is if they knew they could get him for less than the rumored $8-10 million. The Mariners didn't have a good feeling about it, and you can't blame them.

Miller is more likely to come down on his demands for Detroit than for Seattle, due to geographical preferences (Miller is from Florida and played at North Carolina) with Detroit's spring home being in the Sunshine state, and the Tigers being contenders already.

But the negotiations could last awhile and Seattle wants to get their pick on the field this summer.

Morrow is likely to begin his career in Everett this summer, depending partly on when he signs. If he inks a deal quick enough, he could be ready for Everett's opening day, which would allow him time to work his way to Inland Empire, which is where he likely will start his 2007 season.

Comp: Morrow has a lot of similarities to Detroit's Joel Zumaya, but lacks the command and polished breaking ball that Zumaya possesses.

Others that are similar: Wade Miller, Matt Clement, J.J. Putz, Jason Marquis.

Morrow is most likely a No. 3 starting pitcher with 200-inning, sub-4.00 ERA abilities. If he's able to improve his command above the average grade and add a curve ball to change planes in a pitch sequence, the sky is the limit.

Morrow Video 1

Morrow Video 2

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32 Responses to “Brandon Morrow, RHP”

  1. Seth said

    Good write up. But I still wish they’d got Miller.

  2. Miller was clearly going to be a headache for Seattle.

    They did the right thing.

  3. eknpdx said

    Jason, it would appear that Fontaine had a “thing” for large frame pitchers this year. I don’t recall, but is that his historical preference?

    I always thought Fontaine was exceptional at evaluating players in-between the ears. Do you know what they think about Morrow’s mental makeup?

  4. Projectable physical numbers are always preferred by all clubs. If Lincecum could be 6-5, he would be.

  5. DIQ said

    I cant give my opinion any more until he signs and starts to play in the minors.

    I’m still dissapointed, but its nothing new. I think I’m going to find a new team to support.

    Yes, I’m over-reacting.

  6. germpod said

    The more I think about the Morrow deal the better I feel about it. Seattle has had injury problems and I have no problem taking a guy with a slightly lower ceiling but less injury potential. I would rather have a good #3 starter then Ryan Anderson who had huge potential but could not stay healthy. I am not saying that Miller is the next Anderson but am just bringing up the extreme case we had experience with.

    His lack of secondary stuff may largely be due to pitching in college where winning and improving draft status does not allow you to develop a change-up or curve ball at the cost of giving up runs, especially when your main two pitches work so well for you. Playing for Everette, he will not have that problem, it is designed to help him learn those pitches and winning is secondary.

    I have read bad things about Millers delivery, he is mostly a two pitch pitcher also, and he is not a lock to be a front line starter. I am sure Seattle had a good idea of what his demands are and what their chances of signing him would be. If they thought they had a chance for anything reasonable they would have grabbed him. And maybe they do not like his intangables, maybe they talked to him and think he is a head case, we have no idea on that sort of thing.

    I would have been happpier with Miller, but I keep in mind we will not know what the better pick is for another two or three years.

  7. germpod said

    I applaud Jason for coming out and defending the decesion when people are forming up into a mob with torches ready to head to the M’s front office.

  8. germpod said

    I am also happy that we had a second round pick this year. I dont understand our third round pick, but Fontaine has had good judgment in the past, so I am assuming he knows something I don’t.

  9. mk said

    I just would like everyone to know, our tenth-round selection, Stanford shortstop Chris Minaker, went to Edmonds Woodway Highschool in Edmonds, WA, the school I will soon be graduating from.

    Small world, eh?

  10. DIQ said

    You goto Woodway?

    I graduated from there last year, as well.

    I’m guessing you know Travis Snider too, since your class of ’06?

  11. MrMitra said

    Could you elaborate any more on why he was a better pick than Lincecum? I understand about Miller and not wanting that to be a big headache, but what about Lincecum?

  12. cstsnow said

    well I played on the same high school baseball team as Doug Fister who we picked up in the later rounds. beat that , jk. but even if he doesnt project that great its pretty cool to see a former teammate get picked up by your favorite club.

  13. Jerry said

    Count me among the mob with torches.

    The M’s pissed away a golden opportunity to improve their farm system. Passing on Miller was a huge huge mistake, but that wasn’t the only thing that pisses me off about this whole debacle.

    I could understand if the M’s decided that Miller wouldn’t have signed with a team in the Pac NW. Thats one thing. But then, they go out and sign a bunch of losers.

    The only pick that I think is really solid is Tillman.

    Beyond that, how many players did the M’s get in Baseball America’s top 200 (a list which pretty much reflects the industry opionions of players)? TWO! The M’s had 7 picks in the top 200, and they get TWO guys that are highly regarded enough to land in the top 200!

    Its just pathetic.

    It is fine that they wanted to pick a lot of big, projectable pitchers. I like that idea. But why pick a guy who will likely be there in round 6 with a pick in round 3? The whole idea of finding projectible, hidden gems is that you can use LATE round picks on them. The M’s passed on a lot of well-scouted, legitimate prospects to reach for projects. It makes zero sense.

    The M’s got some interesting guys in the later rounds, but that can’t make up for passing up Miller, and, more importantly, their failure to do anything at all in rounds 3-7.

    There were a lot of premium players available in rounds 3-5 or so. The M’s just had to draft them and use the huge chunk of change that should have gone to Andrew Miller to get them signed. Instead, they took a bunch of obscure players whose best attributes are height.

    Maybe the M’s know something that everyone else in the scouting community doesn’t know. Maybe their scouts are so good, they found players that slipped though every other clubs scouting networks and went unnoticed.

    But the more likely explanation is that the M’s just won’t do what it takes to rebuild their club. And that sucks.

  14. DIQ said

    I’m still mad about today, I don’t know why I keep checking for updates.

    The Mariners continue on with their habitual penny-pinching ways.

    When will they understand, cutting corners is the reason we’re in this black-hole. Let’s re-stock the farm with marginal prospects. Maybe that will lead to a pennant in 2012..

  15. MatthewCarruth said

    Yeah, as with some above, I understand passing on Miller if he was actually saying 8-10. That’s absolute lunacy. He’s worth 4 tops. But, like I said many times leading up today, I didn’t see the Ms taking Lincecum. I wish they would have. Then this could have been a really fun draft class to root for. Oh well. At least I know someone in the Ms system now. Go Chris!

  16. P said

    I currently go to Meadowdale, but I remember hearing things about Minaker when I was younger. Pretty cool the M’s drafted him.

  17. DIQ said

    What went down with threats over at Meadowdale and Woodway?

    Lots of kids skipping school huh?

    P what year are you?

    Do you know Porter Balky(cant spell) or Justin Lucero. Those are a couple of my buddies that played ball at Meadowdale.

  18. Davec said

    What an insane statement: “M’s just won’t do what it takes to rebuild their club.” Stupid. Making mistakes is one thing. This sports-radio mentality that the M’s front office doesn’t care or won’t do what it takes has taken on a life of it’s own. How about giving Fontaine and the crew a few years to show results. They are well respected. How about showing some sanity in your posts. They’ve protected their first round picks while adding FA’s over the past two years. It’s a hell of a lot more than could be said for Gillicks tenure. A few years back you would have had to wait until pick 60 to start your bashing.

  19. bfbfan said

    At least a few years ago the M’s were winning 90 or so games.

  20. warner28 said

    They are “protecting” their first round picks by being so bad not by avoiding free agents.

    Davec,

    you do realize that when you pick in the top 10 every year you will never lose your first round pick.

    I prefer to win 90 games a year and not pick until the 2nd round or later.

  21. DIQ said

    18. – It’s the fact that people had high hopes for the draft, and the M’s passed, along with other teams, on talent in the early rounds, that were projected to go higher.

    I guess when it comes down to it, we have to leave decisions up to the people running the ballclub. They’re the ones investing time and money into it and they get the final say.

    I admit a lot of our reactions were harsh, but I’m trying to look on the brighter side of the draft. So many player’s dropped and were available to us and other teams, which means there was probably a reason why they weren’t picked in earlier rounds.

    We’ll see how it all pans out, and hopefully it will be as successful as the past 2 season’s drafts.

    Cheers.

  22. mk said

    Re DIQ: Yeah, some kid called in a saying he was going to shoot up the school last thursday, and that on “6/6/6″ he was going to bomb the school. The cops were patroling campus all day long, although I wasn’t aware the same thing was going on at Meadowdale.

    I’m a junior, however I’m in running start and aren’t really at the highschool at all, next year I won’t have a single class there. It took me a while, but my brother played baseball with your friend Porter I think in middle school, on the Emereld Baseball Club. I don’t play baseball (basketball is my forte), but tales of Travis Sniders’ exploits on the baseball diamond are common knowledge.

  23. RotoEnquire said

    The Mariners got free agents and did win and had a great streak for awhile. What we as fans are going through now is the end result of winning all those games. Unless your the Braves and have a nack for drafting well or are the Yankees and thro money at a problem, this is what you go through at the end of great runs.

    What in the last 6 years the M’s have not had one number one draft pick sign with the club and dealing with any Boras client is somethign the mariners won’t do anymore. Remember A-Rod was a Boras client and look at what happened there.

    Looking at pre-rankings on players in the draft is the same as going to a horse race and only reading the racing form. You won’t win or know what is going on very well. I trust the guys making the draft picks, they have a proven track record. Just look at all teh studds the Angels have.

    I don’t like the free agent moves done by the M’s. Your asking a draft building GM to rebuild a team via free agency. Why not ask him to take over as GM of the Hawks, you will get the same result.

  24. P said

    I’m a sophomore.

    Yeah it was a little strange at school today. I don’t think there were extra police called in, but the administration was all around the classes and lunchroom, more so than normal. Definately a bunch of people skipping as well.

    I know of Porter Balke and Justin Lucero. Don’t know either of them personally, though.

  25. warner28 said

    #23

    The Mariners are not scared of Boras clients. And supposedly Bavasi has a good realationship with Boras.

    They signed a Boras client the last 2 offseasons.

    Washburn
    Beltre

  26. DIQ said

    Either way it’s cool to see more and more locals in the suburbs of Seattle make their way into the MLB.

  27. Allen Jacobs said

    Given how the draft turned out Jason, would you still have Morrow at #3 and Tillman at #6 in the M’s top ten prospects?

  28. I have Morrow at four, after rethinking Snelling’s value, and Tillman at 10.

    The M’s though all along that one of the top 8 college arms would be there at 49 for them, and he would have slid in at No. 6.

    David Huff was the most likely target, though the M’s actually thought they might get a shot at Bard that low.

    But the more Blackley does THIS the less the club needs more starting pitching help.

  29. Andren said

    Since I have the luxury of reading blogs such as yours and generally have done a lot more research on the Ms minor leagues than ever before I was curious where you rank the Ms top 10 and minor league system as a whole?

    Most general opinions on the subject have us ranked very low and the blog/messageboard more often than not feels that our minor league system sucks in comparison to (for instance) the Angels etc.

  30. The M’s awere 22 to start the year and probably sit about the same now.

  31. StandinPat said

    22nd as far as potential star talent, or potential MLB contributors? It seems like the M’s have graduated alot of players and still have several more waiting in the wings that can atleast make a MLB squad int he next year or two. Tacoma has what 7 position players and like 9 pitchers who all could atleast provide fill-in duty, but the majority of which look like they could be MLB avg or a little below.

  32. 22nd overall. It’s a combination of those two.

    They are far better than 22nd at drafting, signing, scouting and developing players with their current front office.

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