When the Phillies put their 60-man player pool together, there seemed to be one major name missing. Francisco Morales, their current number 4 ranked prospect was nowhere to be found.
He could’ve made his mark in 2020 with how bad the Phillies’ bullpen was. With a 7.06 bullpen ERA, a Morales debut couldn’t have hurt.
Being only 20-years-old at the time, age could’ve played a factor in Morales’ absence from the roster. COVID could’ve also been the reason, as Morales is from Venezuela. Travel could’ve been the issue.
Whatever the reason, Morales could be seen in the big leagues in 2021. Before the Rule 5 Draft, the Phillies added Morales to their 40-man roster.
Currently, the Phillies have not signed a reliever to a major league contract this offseason.
Morales has been a starter for most of his time as a Phillies’ farmhand. After he posted an ERA of 5.27 in 2018, the Phillies experimented with using Morales out of the bullpen.
He started 15 games in 2019 and relieved in 12. His stats were significantly better as a reliever. His ERA was .72 better as a reliever (4.10 vs 3.38). His strikeout numbers also got a boost out of the bullpen (13.5 K/9 vs 11.1 K/9). Hitters made weaker contact against Morales as a reliever. As a starter, hitters slugged .382 against him. As a reliever, they only slugged .301.
Morales features a lethal fastball/slider combo. His fastball has been routinely hitting 98 and both pitches are graded as a 60 on the 20-80 scale by scouts. He adds a major league average changeup to his mix.
The young righty could be ready soon. In 2019, he posted his best BB/9 of his minor league career. His control is getting better. Morales could be ready to strike out the world sometime in the 2021 season.
He could end up being similar to Jojo Romero in 2020. Romero pitched excellently in his first 9 appearances to the tune of a 2.89 ERA. Although, it’s a safe bet that Francisco Morales won’t down as much Red Bull.
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