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Morales, image- Jay Floyd
Right-handed pitcher Francisco Morales has emerged as not only one of the Phillies' best prospects but quite possibly one of the best young arms in the sport.
Inked 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 made his regular season minor league 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).
In 2018 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 collected 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.
In 2019 the talented pitcher notched a 1-8 record with a save, a 3.82, a .226 batting average against and a 12.0 K/9 mark in 27 appearances with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.
Last year he participated in the fall instructional league once again, but missed a full season of action due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The 21-year-old possesses a repertoire that includes a fastball that peaks at 98 MPH, a terrific slider that dives down and away from righty batters and a vastly improved change up that has good ideal arm speed. Morales uses that menu to get a lot of swings-and-misses from the opposition.
The change up was an offering that wasn't a claim to fame for Morales heading into 2019, but as he used it more and more (coaches would assign an amount of change ups Morales needed to use in any given outing), batters on the opposing team began to wonder aloud to his BlueClaws teammates, "When did he start throwing that?"
Walks had been a concern for Morales, but he took considerable strides in that regard as part of the Lakewood roster. He averaged roughly 5.9 walks per nine innings prior to 2019 and saw that average reside around 4.3 in 2019.
Coaches loved the maturity that Morales showed on the mound as a BlueClaw. Lakewood pitching coach Matt Hockenberry asserted to me toward the end of the season that Morales possesses remarkable mound presence and showed plenty of mental toughness.
The starting role is very likely where Morales will stay, as he has sky high upside. The sky is the limit for this exceptional talent. Expect to see him in action at the Double-A level this year.
You can keep tabs on this year's Phillies prospects countdown by clicking on this link.