Morning Report – May 8th – Interview With RP Akeel Morris, Dominic Smith, Gavin Cecchini, Jenrry Mejia


        Coming Later Today –

                12 noon – FANGRAPHS - Minor League Hitter Leaders

                 3 pm – Top 10 1B in 2014 MLB Draft - revised 5-2-14

                 6 pm - Brandon Finnegan, Trea Turner, Michael Cederoth, Grayson Greiner, Ehan Paul

I had the pleasure of sitting down with the Savannah Sand Gnats relief specialist earlier this week, 21-year old RHP Akeel Morris. This is my third interview with Morris, the first being when he was first drafted in the 10th round of the 2010 draft out of the Virgin Islands. Always soft-spoken though it’s far from the way he approaches the game on the mound. So far this season, he hasn’t given up a single run (please don’t jinx him) in eight games and 16.1 innings pitched, producing 25 strikeouts as well.

Morris’ journey through the lower levels of the Mets have been rocky, Once thought of as a potential power rotation pitcher, everything seemed to go wrong in Kingsport (2012: 11-G, 7.98 ERA). The coaches pulled him back and began the slow conversion to the pen which seems to suit his game more effectively.

We talked in the dugout prior to Sunday’s day game with the Rome Braves.

Mack – You throw a fastball, curve, slider, and changeup, right?

Akeel – It’s not a pure slider. Sort of a slurve. (He paused). No, I gues you could call it a slider.

Mack – Is the fastball a 2-seamer or 4-seamer?

Akeel – 4-seamer

Mack – You’re pretty settled into being a reliever now. Are you comfortable knowing where you are now?

Akeel – Oh yeah, I’m pretty comfortable now. Everybody loves being a starter but, more important, everybody loves being successful and my success in the role I am playing right now makes me happy.

Mack – Your critics say your arm could burn out early in your career because of the extreme exertion on your fastball delivery Do you worry about this?

Akeel – No, I don’t worry about things that haven’t happened. My arm is fine and I’m just out there playing baseball, that’s all.

Mack – Akeel, you played a limited amount of organized ball in the Virgin Islands and actually auditioned for teams just before the 2010 draft (10th round pick). What made you then believe you had what it takes to be a major league baseball player?

Akeel – I started to get some interest from colleges when I was playing in my senior year. Scouts than began to come around and they and my coaches would talk and project where they thought I could go and accomplish.

Mack – Toby Hyde on the SNY MetsBlog said you are doing this basically with your fastball. Will we see more of the curve and slider as the season rolls on?

Akeel –Yes, definitely. Especially the slider and changeup.

Mack – Lastly, is there someone back home that influenced you the most to play this game we all love so well?

Akeel – Yes. That would be my parents who kept me in the game, paid for the tournaments I pitched in, and were always there to support me. I wouldn’t be here without them.

In summary, Morris is a very calm, almost gentile soul that is currently delivering some of the best relief work the system has seen in quite awhile.

He also is a realist and the Kingsport setback probably was the best thing that ever happened to him. Toby Hyde may be right and this could be a TJS in the making, but the kind of sizzle he throws is best suited to the back end of a future Mets pen rather than be clogged up with all the other potential second-tier starters.

His ETA is undetermined as of today. I'd first like to see this same kind of success with St. Lucie before I'm asked that question.

Michael Scannell asked -

Regarding Dominic Smith and Gavin Cecchini, what the word from Savannah was - are they 'getting it' or does the brass just think they're on a hot streak? I know the organization is conservative with prospects, but they were aggressive in sending Smith to full-season this year...any chance for a jump to PSL to play with Nimmo if they keep this up?  I think the more time these three have coming through the system together, the better.

        Thanks for the question, Michael.

First, I don’t think there is any chance you will ever see Smith and Brandon Nimmo play on the same team. Nimmo has just about outgrown A+ ball while Smith is just beginning to get use to bus rides from Savannah to New Jersey to play baseball games

Regarding Cecchini, again, no rush, especially since Phillip Evans is playing so well in Florida.

Many fans don’t realize that movements from one level to another don’t always come just because one ballplayer is playing well. It takes a full coordinated plan throughout the system.

Let’s face it… the Mets would love to solve their shortstop problem from within… they even have Dilson Herrera playing some there… but you can’t rush these things.

My opinion is that the only movement you will see this season will be a possible Wilmer Flores move to Queens (written before last night). If that happens, he will be replaced on the Las Vegas roster by either Omar Quintanilla or Ruben Tejada.

I see Matt Reynolds, (Binghamton), Evans (St. Lucie) and Cecchini (Savannah) remaining where they are for the full season

There’s a lot of people writing lately about the lack of success Jenrry Mejia has had as a starter. Even Mejia himself is now saying he’d be fine being a back-end reliever.

Facts are facts, and, in his case, he can’t get out of the fifth inning. All the filth that makes him so successful early on is gone by then and, frankly, he’s no longer an effective major league pitcher.

So, if he’s highly successful in short inning situations… and he wouldn’t mind being in that role ("if they told me eighth-inning guy or ninth-inning guy, that's going to be good to me.")... do we have a problem here?

So, it looks like we finally got our way. Wilmer Flores is going to get his shot at short.

Here's my hope...  give him 30 errors... we know they are coming and, if you want, you can throw in botched double play turns and add them as one of the 30 errors.

See how long it takes him to get here and then judge it against his offensive output.

Now, if he hits as bad as he did last year when he played Queens, then let him split time with Tejada until the draft and then please go get the whole Stephen Drew mess put to bed.


I think we'll be alright here... this year. Conservatively, 12-15 HRs, 60-65 RBIs, batting average in the .250 range. And... around 25 errors.


Craig Brown said...

Morning Mack

What is the corresponding move after Flores goes to Queens?

Do they give Serratelli all the starts at short?

Or do they bump up Tovar and TJ Rivera a level each?

Ernest Dove said...

I really hope Wilmer Flores stays healthy, and plays every day. Like Lagares, the young man has been with this organization FOREVER, and the talent has always been there. Plus, unlike Lagares, Flores was always highly projected.......theres simply no downside to making this move, and letting him succeed or fail defensively at short.
I'm assuming that sticking him in the 8th spot, ahead of an 0 for season
pitching spot, is not the best scenario for him, but I don't know anyone else that can go there....

Ernest Dove said...

Oh one more thing.....after watching David Wright pretty much take grounders to short, on a regular basis anyway, with where he plays on the field at third, Flores may not get as many opportunities as one may think....probably won't make that many errors.

Reese said...

The down side is when Terry doesn't play him. You already picked up on the other one -- that when he does, he bats him 8th with no protection in the order. I'd personally put d'Arnaud 8th who has had more big league ABs than Flores.

Mack Ade said...

Craig -

It is still early for bump ups.

Probably everything sits the way it is until Quintanilla is either claimed or not. I would assume he would go back to Vegas and everything would be Status Quo for now,

Craig Brown said...

i'd like to see

Lagares cf
D'Arnaud c
Murph 2b
Wright 3b
Grandy rf
Flores ss
Duda 1b
CYoung lf

That puts both the young guys in a position to see some hittable pitches...

John Zozo said...

About time bringing Flores up. Let him play until we have a late lead and throw Ruben in for defense. I know most folks don't want to move a sure thing, but I would consider moving Wright to short and Flores to 3rd. Wright is athletic enough to do it.

Mack Ade said...

For now, I guess, he hits 8th.

John Zozo said...

I like that a lot but would put C Young up after Granderson. He is actually hitting real good lately.
Allso Duda is patient with his pitches so batting in front of pitcher could be good.

Craig Brown said...


For some reason I had it in my head that Quintinilla was given his outright release....but you're right, he'll probably go unclaimed and head to Vegas...

What is youre take on Rivera? The Mets clearly don't consider him a prospect--he's 25 and still in A ball....but he has always hit well...and other players and coaches always seem to think highly of him...

Personally, i'd rather see a guy like Rivera in AAA than Seratelli....

Mack Ade said...

Craig -

I see Seratelli, Rivera, and Tovar all being AAAA type players that could be groomed to be ready in case of an injury to whoever is playing short in Queens.

I don't happen to see any of them with potential past that.

Evans and Cecchini have potential but both are 2-3 years away.

For now, the Mets need to give the position to Flores... for the remainer of the year... and then decided what to do with position through the 2016 season... meaning, we could be right back in the trade and free agent market this upcoming off season

Ernest Dove said...

I actually love the idea of tda batting second, and Duda batting 8th......
Everyone keeps waiting for tda to hit like an all star. Might help if he wasn't being protected by Tejada all year so far. He has swung at some terrible pitches that teams are willing to throw, with no worry about walking him.
And, since they don't trust Duda to handle cleanup, let him walk, and clear the pitchers spot in the order, instead of leading off the next inning.

Mack Ade said...

My lineup would be Lagares, Murphy, Wright, Granderson, C. Young, d'Arnaud, Flores, Duda

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