As if you weren’t watching him already.
Hunter Morris has been the prospect for many Brewers fans to keep an eye on since Mat Gamel‘s turn in the Bigs became a reality. We just can’t help ourselves – Milwaukee fans are a sucker for a big hitting first baseman. Especially if we can control his contract for a little while.
If ever a prospect were to have a spotlight year, that prospect is Hunter Morris and that year is 2013.
Hunter Morris is caught, to some degree, between a rock and a hard place. See, in the eyes of many Brewers fans, Morris is the next first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers – hands down.
His stats would seem to back it up, too. Morris exploded this year in AA Huntsville as a member of the Brewers affiliate and his hometown minor league team, the Stars. In 2012, his first full season on the team, he hit .303 in 136 games. He also knocked 28 home runs and drove in 113 runs.
More than enough to be named the Southern League Player of the Year, and a member of the Brewers Organizational All-Stars in 2012. So what could be the downside to Hunter?
For one, plate discipline. It’s a problem scouts have seen since his college days in Auburn. The knock on Hunter is that with all that power, he can be overly aggressive at the plate. In 2012, he struck out 117 times in 522 at-bats. His numbers also slumped somewhat in the Arizona Fall League, going for .256 with 22 hits and 20 K’s over 21 games.
So it may seem that people are overeager to see Hunter in the Bigs, when he hasn’t proved that his ability is all the way up to his potential. But that’s just one part of the problem – the other ones are named Corey Hart and Mat Gamel.
See, Hunter Morris can’t play anywhere but first base – he has some liabilities as a fielder. But the Brewers have basically made it clear that first base is Corey’s position to lose going forward, and if the Crew does give Hart his extension, it essentially blocks Morris in Nashville for an indeterminate amount of time.
Assuming that the team will continue to rely on Gamel in a bench role or possibly in the outfield, Morris will be on the outside looking in there, as well.
But it’s not all bad news for Morris, if you can believe it. It may give him just the time he needs to improve some of his problem spots. He can get his bat speed up, work on his eye at the plate and sharpen that defense in the meantime.
All of that could mean Morris will be more valuable in the long run. Which is a very good thing.