|Francisco Morales, image- MiLB.com|
Signed by the Phils in 2016 at age 16, for a reported $900,000, the Venezuela native participated that year in the Florida Instructional League.
He would make his regular season debut the following year with the Rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies, posting a 3-2 record with a 3.05 ERA, a .225 batting average against and a 9.6 K/9 mark in 10 games (nine starts).
Last year, the six-foot-four 185-pounder stepped up to the Class A short-season New York-Penn League. There, in 13 starts for Williamsport, Morales notched a 4-5 record with a 5.27 ERA, a .244 batting average against as well as a 10.9 K/9 mark.
Morales wrapped up his regular season in 2018 with five solid outings, sporting a 2.91 ERA over that stretch. He also recorded a career-high 11 strike outs in a six-inning effort that earned him a win on August 21, at home against State College.
The 19-year-old features a repertoire that includes a fastball that resides around 95-96 MPH, a terrific slider that dives down and away from righty batters and an improving change up. Morales gets a lot of swings-and-misses out of the opposition.
Walks have been concerning in his career to date for Morales, as he averages about 5.9 of those per nine innings. That control issue is said to be due to an inconsistent delivery, but that isn't worrisome with a young hurler such as Morales, as he has plenty of time to iron things out. The youngster won't turn 20 years old until after the 2019 season.
His future as a starter may depend on how the change up plays for him at full-season levels. If the offering doesn't get to where the Phillies' developmental staff likes it, he would be best suited as a reliever, with a strong two-pitch menu.
I would expect Morales to open 2019 in the rotation for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.
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