As I’ve mentioned previously, top prospects tend to be a rare breed at the Triple-A level. Triple-A players tend to be guys about which we have a pretty good idea, and if they’re really good prospects, they probably aren’t long for the level. So when a night features two top prospects on the mound, it’s a good idea to go. This time meant seeing Adam Morgan from the Phillies organization and Daniel Corcino of the Reds organization.
Let’s start with Morgan. He has a lean frame, and I’d say he might even be a touch taller than his six-foot-one-inch listing. His delivery is pretty standard, but he does have a slight crossfire delivery. The landing is a bit stiff, cutting him off a bit, and I think it’s part of the reason he pitches up in the zone, inducing a lot of fly balls. The lefty does repeat the delivery well, but I’d like to see him stay more on line with the plate.
Moving on to his stuff, the fastball was mostly 92 mph-to-93 mph, and he was able to maintain the velocity throughout his appearance. The downside is that it didn’t have significant movement, and if he’s going to pitch up in Citizens Bank Park, I worry about that being a problem. To keep batters off his fastball, Morgan adds three solid pitches in a curveball, change, and slider. The curveball and change-up were his best pitches in this one. The curve was 73 mph-to-77 mph and had good downward break that missed a few bats, and the change-up was in the low-80s with some sink and tail, also getting a few swings-and-misses. Morgan’s slider wasn’t as good, sitting 83 mph-to-85 mph with solid depth and horizontal movement, but he was inducing more soft contact than misses with it. It is a solid arsenal, but I didn’t see a pitch that I thought would miss a lot of bats at the next level.
Daniel Corcino elicits some Jose Cueto comparisons, and looking from a physical standpoint, I see some similarities. Corcino is on the shorter side but is solidly built, especially strong in the legs. His delivery is a bit of a mess, though. As he turns and faces third base, he turns past perpendicular with third base – another Cueto similarity – but his back bends backward toward first base like a backslash – / – from the catcher’s perspective. When he begins coming forward, he seemed to have trouble recovering his balance enough to throw quality strikes. He has never thrown a lot of strikes in his career outside of 2011, and until he straightens out the balance portion of his delivery, he might continue having those problems.
The stuff was a little underwhelming as well. He threw two variations of fastballs. The four-seamer sat in the same range as Morgan’s, but he did hit 94 and 95 mph with it a few times. The second fastball was a two-seamer that sat 89 mph-to-91 mph, and it had some promising bite to it, breaking a couple bats. Besides the fastball, I was expecting a better change-up that would elicit more Cueto comparisons, but he didn’t seem to have a great feel for it that night. He hung a few and threw a few decent ones, but he didn’t miss a bat with one. His slider, however, did miss a few bats at 84 mph-to-85 mph with mostly horizontal movement, but it needs some tightening to miss bats at the next level.
Both pitchers have had a rough start to 2013. Morgan has a 4.97 ERA and 4.83 FIP, and Corcino has been even worse with a 7.20 ERA and 5.23 FIP. The real marker of trouble, however, is in the strikeout rates.
Morgan struck out almost 29% of High-A hitters last season before seeing that drop to 20% at Double-A. It has been 15.6% this season. The positive is that Morgan is still throwing strikes, but his lack of an out pitch seems to be catching up with him. His assortment of pitches and ability to throw strikes with them was enough to befuddle A-ball hitters, but he’ll need a little more work in Triple-A this season. He’s only 23-years old, and he has some time to improve the secondary pitches. But as of right now, he’s more of a 4 or 5 instead of a 3.
Corcino has seen a similar drop in strikeout rate. After obliterating A-ball in 2011 with a 27% strikeout rate and a 6% walk rate that was 4% lower than any other year, Corcino’s K rate dropped to 21% in Double-A, and it has dropped to 16% this season. Even more troubling is that the walk rate is up to 10-11%. Corcino is just 22-years old and six months younger than Morgan, but he’s also not big-league ready at the moment.
It’s good to remember that these pitchers are still young, and we’ve only seen their first month and a half at Triple-A. Their strikeout rates are heading in the wrong direction, but they are still developing and adjusting to the fact that they can’t just blow it past better hitters. As of this viewing, I would peg both as being closer to 4/5 pitchers. Morgan could use a grade improvement in one of his secondary offerings, and Corcino needs to improve his control and command along with a reappearance of the change-up that had evaluators buzzing a year or so ago.