By David Heck, Special to CBS Local Sports
CBS Local Sports will be profiling one young player from each Major League Baseball team every day for the next 30 days as part of our “30 Players 30 Days” spring training feature.
Logan Morrison, Outfielder, Miami Marlins
2011 season: 123 G, 462 AB, .247 AVG, 23 HR, 72 RBI, .797 OPS
A must-follow for baseball fans on Twitter, Morrison will soon command attention not for his antics in social media but for what he does on the baseball field. A 22nd-round pick by the Marlins in 2005, Morrison has turned from an obscure player coming out of high school into a player with superstar potential in the Major Leagues. He’s had his share of hiccups the past couple of years, but he should be poised to break out this season as the Marlins make a run at the National League East.
Morrison possesses every attribute one would want from a corner outfield type – average, power and discipline – even though a quick glance at his Major League numbers wouldn’t necessarily suggest that to be the case. A career .290 hitter in the minors, Morrison owns a much less impressive .259 mark in the big leagues, but that can be blamed on bad luck and small sample size. His swing is quick and his plate coverage is excellent, meaning he should be able to hit at least in the .280 range. And while he only launched two homers in 62 games as a rookie in 2010, that woeful performance can be blamed on injuries – he was recovering from a broken wrist, only one year after he broke his thumb. Hand injuries are notorious for sapping players’ power, and with two in two years, that certainly seemed to be the case for Morrison. Fully healthy last season, he showed what kind of pop is in his bat, launching 23 dingers in less than a full slate of games.
If there was a silver lining to Morrison’s injuries, it’s that his patience at the plate improved when he could no longer drive the ball the way he was used to. That discipline was apparent during the 2009 and 2010 seasons – between both the minors and Majors – but took a backwards turn last year, when Morrison hit for more power but walked less and struck out more. In order to jump to the next level, the 24-year-old outfielder has to find a happy medium between his last two seasons and display both power and patience at the same time.
If he does that, Morrison could become a perennial All-Star and bona fide middle-of-the- order hitter. And even if he doesn’t get all the way there this year, he’s still got plenty of time to seize the potential that he’s already shown in the Majors. The new-look Marlins will have no shortage of storylines over the next few years, from Hanley to Ozzie to Jose, but Morrison might be getting the most press of anyone when all is said and done.
Next up on March 21: Atlanta Braves