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.
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.
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.
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.