It’s Time to Move On From Hunter Morris

kylewl22
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Any fan familiar with the Milwaukee Brewers should know the name of Hunter Morris. The lefty-hitting first base prospect thrust himself to the forefront of every Brewers fan’s consciousness with his breakout 2012 for AA Huntsville: a .303/.357/.563 line with a league leading 28 home runs and 113 RBI to capture the Southern League MVP. Since that season, Morris’ career seems to have come to a halt, and he has plummeted from as high as 4th to currently the 19th rated Brewers prospect, per mlb.com. With the Brewers’ 40 man roster currently full, they will need to place someone on waivers and attempt to outright that player to AAA should a key free agent be added. I believe the time has come for the 26 year old Hunter Morris to receive this fate.

Hunter’s 2012 season was truly excellent; it also seems to have been truly a fluke. Morris’ ISO that season was 52 points higher than in any other season of his career, his slugging percentage 102 points higher, and his OBP 35 points. Across the four highest minor league levels, Hunter’s numbers are as follows:

A         314 AB           .251/.306/.436

A+       531 AB           .271/.299/.461

AA       615 AB           .303/.354/.554

AAA    902 AB           .260/.315/.453

To me, it looks like a case of “one of these things is not like the other ones.” Since his 155 wRC+ in 2012, Hunter has put up marks of 97 and 95 over the past two seasons at AAA, leaving a lot to be desired from the first baseman. Morris’ poor walk rate (5.6% last season) and tendency to whiff (over 20% in 3 of 5 minor league seasons) leave Morris as a low average, low on base type hitter, and he is considered a poor baserunner. Known to be a below average defender, it does not look like Hunter has the bat to carry him to the major leagues.

Morris has been given opportunities to grab the first base job for the Brewers, but has failed to capitalize. A poor spring performance in 2013 cost him the chance to win the spot after Corey Hart went down. Since then, Morris has failed to receive major league call ups in either of the past two Septembers. He suffered a fractured arm last July and missed significant time, and players like Jason Rogers and free agent Matt Clark leapfrogged Morris on the depth chart.

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Since the season has ended, Adam Lind, Luis Jimenez, and Shane Peterson have joined Morris, Rogers, and Clark in what has become a crowded first base situation on the 40 man. Lind is the presumed starter and can be controlled for the next two years at a reasonable cost if he performs well, specifically against righties. He hits lefty, like Morris, so a platoon situation would not be possible. Whereas Jimenez, Rogers, Clark, and Peterson have the ability to play multiple positions, Hunter is limited to first base and has poor value as a bench option in the majors.

Since his big 2012 season, Hunter Morris has failed to fit the billing as a top prospect. He hasn’t lived up to the big numbers he achieved at AA, has dealt with injuries, and has been passed on the depth chart by players who can provide more value than he does. The time has come for the Brewers to move on from Hunter Morris.

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