School: Gonzaga University; Class: Junior
Position: RHP; B/T: R/R
Height: 5-10; Weight: 185
Previously Drafted: N/A
Background: A smallish right-hander, Morgan, who according to reports didn’t even receive a Division III offer until his senior year began, piqued the interest of the Gonzaga coaching staff. And after a quick workout, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound hurler earned a walk-on spot. Morgan appeared in 14 games, including three starts, for the Bulldogs, throwing 45.2 innings of work with 36 strikeouts and just eight walks en route to tallying a 2.36 ERA. He continued to confound hitters as he moved into the Alaska Summer League: in 42.2 innings with the Matsu Miners, he posted an impressive 47-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio while coughing up just four earned runs.
Morgan moved into Gonzaga’s rotation fulltime the following year, in 2016, and he remained equally productive. In a career best 16 starts, he tossed 111.0 innings while averaging 8.68 strikeouts and just 2.51 walks per nine innings to go along with a 3.73 ERA and a 10-3 win-loss record. And, once again, he continued to dominate summer league hitters as well. This time, though, he moved up to the premier Cape Cod League.
In limited action, mostly working out of the Orleans Firebirds’ bullpen, he posted an impeccable 22-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio – though he did surrender eight earned runs.
This season, as Gonzaga’s unheralded ace, Morgan has been nearly unhittable: he finished with a 138-to-31 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 10-2 record in 14 starts.
Projection: Very reminiscent of Cardinals’ 2013 first round pick – and former Gonzaga hurler – Marco Gonzales – except Morgan isn’t left-handed. The current Bulldog isn’t overpowering in the typical fashion, but relies on a promising changeup to generate copious amounts of punch outs. While he shows above-average control, he’s been hampered by the long ball one too many times. He’s coughed up nine dingers in just over 100 innings of work this season.
Morgan’s 2017 production actually puts him into some elite company. Between 2011 and 2016, just four Division I pitchers have averaged at least 12 strikeouts and fewer than 3 free passes every nine innings: Trevor Bauer, Danny Hultzen, and Joey Lucchesi – two top picks and a 2016 fourth round selection. Not bad company.
Overall, Morgan looks like a nice little – potentially fast-moving – backend starting pitcher. His slight frame and lack of overpowering arsenal will cause him to fall some in the draft, but he should land somewhere near the backend of the second or early third rounds.
Ceiling: 1.5-win player
Floor: 0.5-win player
Risk: Low to Moderate
Grade: First Round