A Look at Franklin Morales
Let's take a look today at one of the more underappreciated pitching prospects in the game, Rockies power lefty Franklin Morales.
First, here is what I wrote about him in the book this year:
He currently ranks 16th on my Top 50 Pitching Prospects list, and I expect that to rise this year.
From a scouting perspective, there's nothing not to like here: Morales has first-class stuff, especially for a lefty, hitting the mid 90s and generating a lot of movement with his breaking ball. His control still needs a lot of work, but his K/IP and H/IP marks are outstanding, and he has improved dramatically over the last two seasons, in terms of harnessing his stuff.
I'm certainly not alone here. . .traditional scouts love his ceiling. Deric McKamey of Baseball Forecaster loves him. PECOTA gives mixed results: Francisco Liriano and Scott Kazmir show up on his comp list, but so do Ty Howington and Mark Phillips, classic examples of power lefties who failed to develop.
Morales transition to Double-A will tell us a great deal. He'll be heading to Double-A Tulsa, and the Texas League will provide him with a challenge. Seeing him in action early in the year is one of my first scouting goals. His mechanics still give him trouble at times, and Texas League hitters can punish pitchers with shaky control. On the other hand, Morales has done quite well pitching in difficult environments over the last two seasons, as his ground ball tendencies help him suppress the extra base hit. Even slight improvement in his command this year could vault him into the Top Ten Pitching Prospects, and even (possibly) the Top Five.