In his debut with Single-A Fort Wayne tonight, Adrian Morejon continued to flash the tools and maturity that garnered him a spot on top 100 prospect lists, allowing just one run and five hits over five innings as the TinCaps defeated the Dayton Dragons 3-2.
“He came as advertised,” Manager Anthony Contreras said, “throwing a lots of strikes and having a live fastball. You always want to see what these guys are going to do when they get in this limelight and in front of this type of crowd, and I think a lot these guys really thrive off the energy of this place…but to give us five innings on his first day out there is [impressive]…he gave up one earned run, but he does that as an 18 year old kid.”
Despite the successful night, Morejon confessed that he was indeed nervous about the game, saying through a translator, “I felt a little pressure in the first inning, but after that, I definitely felt more comfortable.” The nerves weren’t obvious to anyone in the ballpark as Morejon immediately looked poised and polished on the mound as he proceeded to attack the zone, striking out the first batter he faced on a beautifully located fastball that, because of some late movement, unexpectedly caught the inside edge of the plate.
The subsequent batter did manage a single, but it was only a weakly hit liner over the first baseman’s head. Still, Morejon kept hammering the zone, working his fastball in the 92-95 range and touching 96, and induced a groundout before Dayton Dragons’ cleanup hitter rocketed a liner that looked to be trouble, yet was snagged by a leaping Fernando Tatis Jr:
— Andy McDonnell (@Andy_McDonnell) July 30, 2017
In the second inning, Morejon was forced to really grind as the opposing hitters went into protect mode, fouling off fifteen pitches. Although that high number might suggest Morejon was struggling to miss bats, the reality is that hitters were only incessantly fouling because they couldn’t time or predict his fastball, an issue that was exacerbated by a couple of well-placed changeups. When I asked him about his attack in the midst of that long inning, he said that it didn’t really alter his game-plan but continued to echo the level of competition. “I didn’t worry about that much but kept throwing my pitches to get them out. Yeah, they kept fighting but these hitters have more experience than where I came from (Tri-City). I started seven games over there and just one here, but I noticed a big difference in the hitters here.”
Unfortunately, the downside of his battles in the second inning was that by the time he reached third inning, he lost the ability to dial up the fastball, sitting instead in the 90-93 mph range. Considering he’s only 18 years of age and this is his first year of professional ball, the fact that he wasn’t able to maintain velocity shouldn’t be too disconcerting and will likely come as he matures physically. The astounding aspect of his game at this juncture was that Morejon continued to demonstrate strong command and a strong ability to mix in the curveball to keep hitters off balance.
Nevertheless, his lone blemish on the night came in that third inning when Mitch Piatnik hit a double to deep centerfield to drive in the hot-handed Jose Siri, who owns a 34 game hitting streak. Seemingly unfazed, Morejon bounced back quickly, getting Taylor Trammell, the 35th pick in the 2016 draft, to hit into a double play.
He cruised through the following two innings on just fourteen pitches before exiting the game, having tossed 57 of his 77 pitches for strikes.
Perhaps, one of the more notable aspects of his stellar performance was that he was able to consistently replicate his delivery, which had plagued him two starts ago, per a report by Madfriars. “At 18 years old, to be able to repeat every single time and be consistent with your mechanics is impressive,” elaborated Contreras. “When you get a price tag put on him like he has, then there’s a lot of eyes on him, a lot of pressure, and a lot of speculation, so for him to go out there and do what he did was very impressive.”
Morejon will likely be slated to continue his success on Friday or Saturday, depending on how the Mason Thompson injury shakes up the rotation.
—Tomorrow, we’ll have more on how the TinCaps fared against a rehabbing Major League pitcher and A.J. Kennedy’s game winning hit.