Bryan Morris, who entered this season as the Pirates’ #6 prospect according to Baseball America, has been moved into the Altoona Curve bullpen on a permanent basis.
Morris, 24, was slated to start for the Curve Sunday evening, but instead, Phil Irwin was promoted from Bradenton to take Morris’ spot. Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror tweeted that Irwin will take Morris’ spot in the rotation as Morris will now be used out of the bullpen exclusively.
This definitely is a step back and is a big blow to Morris’ top prospect status. Morris is the last remaining piece left from the Jason Bay trade and the only hope the Pirates can salvage something from the deal.
Morris is on the 40-man roster and has just one more option remaining after this season. So a switch to the bullpen could help him find a spot on the ML roster when the time comes. Also, Morris has seen much more success this season coming out of the bullpen than starting. He first started pitching in relief to come back from an injury earlier in the year, so he does have 5 appearances out of the ‘pen. In those 5 games, he’s pitched 13 1/3 innings with a 2.03 ERA. He’s struck out 11 and walked just one. However, in his 6 starts, he has a 6.04 ERA in 25 1/3 innings with 17 strikeouts and 16 walks. Quite a difference.
It’s a little disappointing when you hear that the club’s #4 pitching prospect will now be a reliever, but based on what we’ve seen from Morris, it may be the best move for him. He still very much remains a prospect, and should still be expected in the Majors as early as next season.
The Trib’s Rob Biertempfel confirms the switch to the bullpen. However, he does add that Morris’ role could change if he makes the Majors.
Tim at Pirates Prospects has more about the move, including quotes from Pirates’ Farm Director Kyle Stark.