By: Adam Kirshenblatt
DUNEDIN, Fla. - Matt Morgan is ready to prove himself to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays 2014 fourth-round draft pick feels he has not lived up to his expectations in his first two years with the organization.
The 20-year-old hit .139 with three home runs and 17 RBI in 75 games during his first two seasons in the minor leagues.
This spring training, Morgan believes he can get back on track to improve enough to move up the ranks with the Blue Jays.
“I feel good, I’ve been doing things that I expected out of myself this camp,” Morgan said. “My first couple of years, I didn’t perform at the level I expected to but I didn’t let it bother me. I kept working hard and hopefully this year I’ll have a better year than I did the first two seasons.”
It's understandable Morgan would have an adjustment period. Prior to being drafted, he was enrolled in the same school from Grade 8 to Grade 12 in his hometown of Thorsby, Ala.
In Thorsby, Morgan was the starting catcher of his team since his arrival in Grade 8, and its best player by the time he graduated. Once he was drafted, he moved to a new city and state while becoming a rookie for the first time in a long time.
“That’s been an adjustment,” Morgan said of his surroundings in Dunedin. “But at the same time in anything, you got to keep that same confidence level of you being one of the better guys there in anywhere you go.”
Morgan believes that in order to reach the next plateau of his baseball career, he needs to improve at the plate.
“My weaknesses are on the offensive side,” Morgan said. “I think I’m going to change that this year. My goal this whole off-season is to tighten up my whole game. Not just the hitting aspect or the defensive game but everything.”
Thorsby High School’s coach Ab Argent has high praises for Morgan’s defensive skills and his ability to handle pitchers.
“He’s kind of like a pitching coach behind the plate,” Argent said. “He understands hitters and how to pitch to them. He can recognize a guy’s swing and figure out how he wants to pitch to him.”
One of the ways Morgan had developed his ability to call games was that he spent some time as a pitcher.
“I think it’s one of those things where he can see it from their (the pitcher’s) view point when he’s behind the plate,” Argent said. “He understands quickly how a pitcher feels that day and what’s working. It’s something I would describe as Baseball IQ.”
Even though Morgan has never been to Toronto or Canada, he couldn’t help but imagine himself there while watching the Blue Jays during the 2015 MLB playoffs.
“You got to. You’ve got to have that goal in mind if you’re out here” Morgan said. “It’s just something I keep working on and striving towards.”