May 31, 2007
Brandon Morrow has a 99-mph fastball, which, apparently, is all the blabbing he really needs to do. That and the 15 2/3-inning scoreless streak he's carrying. And the blindingly bright future.
"He's real quiet," fellow Seattle Mariners pitcher Jarrod Washburn said. "What little energy he has, he puts into pitching. … He is how a rookie should act and should be. He works hard. He has an open mind and a closed mouth, which is absolutely how he should be at this point in his career."
"I think that's just my personality," he said. "I'm not trying to do that."
Either way works.
One of four college pitchers from the 2006 draft to already be making their major-league way – San Francisco's Tim Lincecum, New York Met Joe Smith, Detroit's Andrew Miller are the others – Morrow began his first spring training likely headed to Class A.
Instead, the Mariners saw enough in Morrow's four pitches – an outstanding splitter, plus slider and above-average changeup to go with the fastball – and poise (he also manages a diabetic condition) to put him in their bullpen, and his effectiveness and their attrition has placed him solidly in the eighth inning setting up for closer J.J. Putz.
His fastball came in two major leaps. The first was in the summer between his sophomore and junior years of high school in Northern California, which he started at 80 mph and ended at 90. Then, in his sophomore year at Cal, the rest came. After that season, he summered as a closer in the Cape Cod League, which is when all the scouts started showing up.
Morrow projects as a starter, probably as soon as next season, behind Felix Hernandez. Until then, he's happy both in his place, and knowing it.
"I don't think about it," he said. "I'll do anything."
Just what Washburn's talking about.
"He's not your typical rookie of today," he said. "It's good to see."
• While we're at it with Washburn, he's 5-4 and his ERA – 3.22 – is about a run-and-a-half better than last season's and ranks 12th among AL starters.
"Last year, I mentally wasn't right," he said of his first professional season away from the Los Angeles Angels. "First time on a new team, I wasn't myself. … I wanted to be part of the team, but I didn't know how to do it."
He believes he took his passive entry to Seattle to the mound with him. Now he's around the strike zone and killing left-handed hitters, who batted .317 against him last season. This season: .203.
"Now I'm back and being a punk again," he said, smiling, "and people still seem to like me."
• Twelve years ago last night, Derek Jeter had his first career hit, a single against the Mariners in Seattle. YES had the footage. When Jeter arrived on base, looking about 12, the first baseman was Tino Martinez.
• He's in L.A., and so am I, which means I see a lot more of him, but I can't believe there has been a better all-around catcher in the National League these first two months than Russell Martin. He currently trails Paul Lo Duca, Brian McCann and Johnny Estrada in NL All-Star balloting.
• Gary Matthews has 17 RBI in 19 games since he was moved from leadoff to cleanup, which probably is exactly what Bill Stoneman had in mind when he signed him.
… AND FLY
Welcome back to David Ortiz, who, because of a tender hamstring and illness, last played Saturday in Texas. In his first at-bat back, last night against Cleveland's Paul Byrd, he lined a single to center field.