Skip to main content

PhoulBallz Interview: Lakewood LHP Zach Morris

Zach Morris, image- Jay Floyd
Entering this week, lefty reliever Zach Morris had allowed just two earned runs over 31 games dating back to April 27th this season for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. Over that stretch, the six-foot-five 245-pounder tallied a 7-1 record with five saves and a 0.43 ERA.

Drafted out of Maryland by the Phillies in the 24th round last year, the 23-year-old has posted an overall record of 12-3 with a 2.33 ERA and seven saves in 54 games thus far as a pro.

This week, I sat down with Zach, who spoke about his tremendous hot streak, his familiar name, his team's chances at reaching the post-season and plenty more. Read ahead for that interview.

-You've been doing very well and have gotten some attention for your efforts out there. Talk about the great stretch of success you had here this season.

It's been fun. Obviously, it's not all me. We've had good defense and the guys, with the defense we have, it's easy. You just know if you go out there and pound the zone, if they hit the ball, ground ball- routine plays get made. It's not all-- I make pitches when I need to, but at the same I have all the trust in the catchers and the pitch calling has been phenomenal and the defense as well. You see guys making diving plays and I mean it's been awesome.

-Other guys have done well and moved upward. Some might be surprised you're still at this level. Is there anything that coaches have shared or that you've been advised by other team personnel on what they want to see from you in order to take that step to the next level?

No, not for the most part. This year, I changed my delivery this year. I've done more what the Phillies want and, obviously, it's paid off a lot.

I like the pitching philosophy here and I mean, it's something different that I've never done until college. And then last when I went down to the (Gulf Coast League), after my first outing, (pitching coordinator) Carlos Arroyo was there and he was helping me and he told me what the Phillies really want and that's doing the extension, staying connected to the rubber and I tried to incorporate it a little bit, but I struggled with it last summer and I worked on it in the off-season and coming in to spring training, everything just started clicking.

-That work in the off-season, who do you pair up with to get that work in and where do you put in that work?

Maryland- I go right to my college. I live about 30 minutes from it and we had a good junior class last year and we had seniors hang around the area, so in the off-season we all live together and we'll lift three or four times a week and when guys need to throw, it's just a text away. It's cool when you're living with all those guys 'cause they're all in other organizations and we all need to get our work in.

-You talked about guys with other teams...is there anyone that you can mention specifically that you worked closely with?

Alex Robinson, he was a fourth round pick to the Twins last year. He's been my throwing partner for three years. I've been throwing with him a lot. And then there were some positions guys, but then there's Kevin Mooney, one of the best closers in Maryland history, he's with the Nationals now. The three of us have been throwing, we throw a lot together.

-With your name, I see it a lot from people on Twitter, there are a lot of jokes and references to the Zach Morris character on the old TV show Saved By the Bell. Are those jokes old or are you still able to enjoy those cracks?

Yeah, I love it. I love that show. It’s probably (among my) top three or four shows of all time. And I was not named after him when I was born. But, just the older I got—when I was young I didn’t watch the show and probably like I guess high school came around and kids were like, “It’s the same name as Zach Morris from that show.” And then in college I would be warming up at different fields and you’d hear the theme song come on. But, I’ve learned to embrace it. It’s been fun.

-Is there a lot of excitement among the pitching staff regarding the standings and the race for a playoff berth?

Yeah, definitely. Obviously, the first half you saw at the beginning, it was a rough starts for us, then we started picking it up at the end and then we've come out in the second half and just come out hot. Just winning makes it more fun and all the guys buying in with each other, it's been awesome. So, we just want to keep things rolling here these next (four) weeks and we'll see what happens.

-Are there any teammates you've been able to bond closely with and pick up a lot from?

All of us, honestly, the whole pitching staff- everyone’s close for the most part. I mean, there’s no problems. Our bullpen is phenomenal. Every guy there I’d do anything for. Some of the guys I just met this year and at the same time I’d do anything for. When we’re out on the road we do everything together. At first it wasn’t kind of like in college where you’ve got everybody playing for each other, but lately, in the second half, we have everyone buying in. It’s kind of like a family, in a way. At the same time it’s pro ball, but we all want each other to succeed and I guess we’re kind of feeding off each other. Seeing everyone have success has been awesome.

-Your transition out of the college ranks and into the pros, was that easier than you expected or pretty much just as you expected it would be?

A little bit of both. I mean, it was-- 'cause in college you're playing for the school and not everybody's going to go onto the next level, so you're playing with, you've got guys that are good enough to play at the pro level and there are others that are going to be good college players, so they know that it kind of ends, so the seniors, you want to go all out for them and you just want to win for them and it means a lot to the school. And then coming to pro ball, starting in the GCL, it's been a good transition, but it's a lot different than college I'll say.

-Outside of the park, whether you're at home or on long bus trips, what are you doing to pass time or have fun?

During the off-season, I fish about every single day. I mean that's what I do, fishing and play baseball. And then on the road, you gotta try to watch Netflix. Hopefully, you don't overuse your data, because road trips without data aren't a lot of fun. But, I don't know, I've probably gone through about three or four different shows this year.

-What's the hot one? Which is the show you'd tell others not to miss?

Game of Thrones. I was so against it until the other guys in the organization were like, "Dude you have to watch it! How do you not watch it?" Eventually one day I just caved and I watched all six seasons in about a four weeks maybe. So, definitely Game of Thrones.

-If you were to get a chance to talk to young players that wanted to play baseball beyond high school, whether that's college or professionally, what feedback or advice would you share with them?

Just make sure you're having fun with it. That's the most important thing. You don't want to do something with your life that you're not having fun with. Baseball has its ups and downs. There's going to be days where you think, "I really hate this sport." But at the end of the day, that's just baseball. It's the only sport where you can fail seven out of ten times and still be a Hall-of-Famer, like they say. But, hust make sure you're having fun with it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

This Guy Speaks For All of You

This individual, interviewed by FOX 29 on Friday as the Phillies arrived back at Citizens Bank Park, said it best. When asked how he felt regarding the Phillies, he told Steve Keeley that he was, "Stoked, baby!" The unidentified phanatic then proclaimed, "We are talking about the Fightins here, the Fightins! Said!" Check out the media player below, as the transcribed version certainly does not do this phireball of phandom justice. The Phillies forced game 6 of the National League Championship Series with a 4-2 victory over the Giants in San Francisco on Thursday night. Game 6 will feature Roy Oswalt vs. Jonathan Sanchez in a return pitching match up from game 2. First pitch is scheduled for 7:57 pm EST at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Be sure to tune in on 97.3 ESPN's Weekend Sports Guide with Tyrone Johnson this afternoon around 1:15pm to hear me chatting about the Phillies! 97.3 is based in Atlantic City. You can listen live online HERE . _________

Rappers in Phillies Caps

Weekend greetings to you phine pholks out there. Today's post features pictures of rappers wearing Phillies caps. Why rappers in Phillies caps, you ask? Because... Any other questions? We will start things off properly by going with a highly recognizable hip hop star. 50 Cent stays constantly relavant by consistantly creating radio friendly material to help sell (G) units, while he "keeps it real" by still rapping about the thug life he lived before becoming the 2nd highest earning black entertainer in America. 50 is seen here in a recent interview rocking a throw-back Phillies cap. Next up we'll use a throw-back screen cap from what may be the very first major appearance by a rapper wearing Phillies gear. Chuck D, of legendary rap group Public Enemy, wore a Phillies cap in the music video for rap anthem Fight The Power in 1989. The song was the lead single from the soundtrack for Spike Lee's film Do The Right Thing . Next up we'll go with some home gro

McGwire Stays Phony, Despite Admitting Drug Use

Mark McGwire made an effort to publicly come clean today, admitting to the world that he took performance enhancing drugs during his playing career. Steroids and human growth hormones were among the drugs that McGwire admitted to using. MLB Network featured a one on one interview with Bob Costas and McGwire on Monday evening. The broadcast was virtually garbage, thanks to McGwire. Ahead is a list of quotes from McGwire's interview. McGwire repeatedly stated his point of view that there were no dishonorable intentions involved when taking steroids, and that he was merely using them as a means to recover from varying ailments. When asked if he felt like he cheated... "As I look back now...I can see how people would say that. As far as the talent goes and the hand-eye coordination, the ability, the genetics I was given...I don't see it." "I did not take this for any strength purposes." Denial. Read on for similar B.S. He whined about the abuse he'