2. Hunter Morris
Right around the time Mat Gamel went down with an ACL tear the first time, Hunter Morris was accelerating his path to the big leagues. A fourth round pick by the Brewers out of Auburn in 2010, Morris was lighting up the Double-A Southern League.
In 2012, Morris hit .303/.357/.563 with a league-leading 28 home runs, 40 doubles, six triples, and 113 RBIs en route to the Southern League MVP award. He exploded onto the scene and was one of the top first base prospects in all of baseball.
With an abundance of raw power from the left side of the plate, Morris seemed like the perfect fit at first base moving forward, and the opportunity was right in front of him in 2013 with Gamel out with injury.
The Brewers invited Morris to spring training in 2013, and perhaps the opportunity to win the Brewers starting first base job with a great spring put too much pressure on him, but he looked absolutely terrible at the plate that spring. In 12 games and 26 at-bats, Morris had only three hits and a .115 batting average. He missed his opportunity for that job and went to Triple-A for a little more seasoning.
While most were expecting Morris to light up the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League just like he did in the Double-A Southern League, he continued to take major steps backwards. In 2013, Morris hit just .247 with 24 homers and a .766 OPS. His OBP dropped 47 points and his slugging percentage dropped 106 points from 2012 to 2013.
In 2014, Morris continued to struggle, this time his power had left him, with just 11 homers in 103 games that year, dealing with an injury as well. In April 2015, the Brewers traded Hunter Morris to the Pirates for a PTBNL or cash.
It really was a disappointing turn for the Brewers as they were going to be initiating a rebuild shortly after that trade. The Brewers have had so much turnover at the first base position since Prince Fielder left after the 2011 season, and these first two prospects, Mat Gamel and Hunter Morris are a big reason why. They were the two big first base prospects in the minor league system at the time and neither could take over the starting job. That’s why we had to have a year of Yuniesky Betancourt and Juan Francisco at first base, and so many others since.
Morris had such a high ceiling and it was easy to dream on that raw power and ability. But he also had a low floor and he wasn’t able to get far off the ground. Morris never got a chance to make his major league debut.