HUNTER MORRIS, FIRST BASEMAN
Born: October 7, 1988
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 230
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Drafted: 4th Round, 129th overall, 2010 (Brewers)
How Acquired: Trade (from Brewers for PTBNL)
College: Auburn University
Agent: Jet Sports Management

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

Morris’ calling card has always been raw power, but it hasn’t shown up in games consistently outside of 2012, when he was in AA.  He’s generally had low walk rates, but his K rates haven’t been excessive for a power hitter.  He had large platoon splits in 2012-13, but didn’t have one in 2014.  Morris doesn’t run well or have much range in the field, and is otherwise probably average at best defensively.  The Pirates obtained Morris from the Brewers for a player to be named later at the end of spring training in 2015.

2010
A:  251/306/436, 291 AB, 19 2B, 4 3B 9 HR, 20 BB, 58 K, 7-9 SB

The Brewers sent Morris to full-season ball for his debut.  He didn’t dominate there, but hit respectably with a low walk rate and low OBP.  He spent a little time at third and in the outfield corners.

2011
A+:  271/299/461, 501 AB, 28 2B, 5 3B, 19 HR, 18 BB, 84, 7-10 SB
AA:  353/353/706, 17 AB, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 1 K

In the pitching-friendly Florida State League, Morris hit for solid power, but rarely walked, leading to a very low OBP.  On the plus side, he didn’t strike out much for a very aggressive power hitter.  Morris again played a few games at third, but the Brewers evidently concluded that wasn’t going to work as he hasn’t played anywhere but first base since then.

2012
AA:  303/357/563, 522 AB, 40 2B, 6 3B, 28 HR, 40 BB, 117 K, 2-3 SB

Morris had his one big season as a pro, hitting for serious power in the Southern League.  He even got his walk rate up to a borderline level.  Baseball America ranked him as the Brewers’ fourth best prospect after the season.

2013
AAA:  247/310/457, 497 AB, 26 2B, 3 3B, 24 HR, 43 BB, 122 K, 3-4 SB

Morris didn’t repeat his 2012 performance despite moving to a much better hitting environment in the Pacific Coast League.  Some of the drop off resulted from a 211/256/411 line against LHPs, although at 266/305/448 he didn’t exactly pummel them in 2012.  The Brewers had several opportunities to call Morris up during the season but didn’t, not even in September.  They did, however, add him to their 40-man roster after the season.

2014
R:  200/333/400, 15 AB, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 BB, 3 K
AA:  269/296/269, 26 AB, 1 BB, 4 K
AAA:  279/323/448, 330 AB, 21 2B, 1 3B, 11 HR, 20 BB, 74 K

Morris had a similar year to 2013, hitting for decent but not good (for a first baseman) power, with a low OBP.  His walk rate actually dropped significantly from 2014.  In contrast to the previous two years, he did not have a platoon split.  Morris missed about a month and a half starting near the end of June due to a fractured arm.  The Brewers removed him from their 40-man roster after the season.

2015
AA:  133/161/167, 30 AB, 1 2B, 1 BB, 5 K
AAA:  143/188/185, 119 AB, 3 2B, 1 3B, 7 BB, 46 K

The Pirates probably acquired Morris because they lacked a true first baseman at Indianapolis, although Brent Morel and Deibinson Romero were capable of playing there.  They might also seen him as potential major league depth.  Between not calling him up in 2013 and ditching him after less than two years in AAA, though, it seemed as though the Brewers gave up on him rather quickly.  As it turned out, they apparently knew what they were doing.  Morris collapsed completely at the plate.  By the beginning of May, his playing time started to disappear.  He got only 23 plate appearances in June and July.  At the beginning of August, the Pirates demoted Morris to Altoona when they promoted Josh Bell.  Morris played only sporadically for Altoona and somehow managed to hit even worse than he had in AAA.

Morris won’t be a minor league free agent until after the 2016 season.  The Pirates could hang onto him in the hopes that he recovers his swing, but they have a number of fair to good prospects reaching the upper levels of the system and it makes little sense to expend playing time on Morris.

CONTRACT INFORMATION
2016: Minor League Contract
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $218,700
MiLB Debut: 2010
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2016
MLB FA Eligible:
N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man:
 11/20/13 (since removed)
Options Remaining: 2 (USED:  2014)
MLB Service Time: 0.000
TRANSACTIONS
June 8, 2007: Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 2nd round, 84th overall pick.
June 8, 2010:
Drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 4th round, 129th overall pick; signed on June 14.
November 20, 2013: Contract purchased by the Milwaukee Brewers.
January 19, 2015: Designated for assignment by the Milwaukee Brewers; outrighted to AAA on January 26.
April 2, 2015: Traded by the Milwaukee Brewers to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later.
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