Savannah, GA - Savannah Sand Gnats reliever Akeel Morris has been named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week for his dominant appearances during the week of April 3 through April 13. Over three appearances, the righthander struck out 14 batters and has yet to allow an earned run in his six and two-thirds innings.
In 2010, Morris was drafted by the Mets in the 12th round out of Charlotte Amalie High School in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Among pitchers who threw at least 40 innings, Morris led the New York Penn League in strike-out percentage (32.8 percent) while pitching for the Brooklyn Cyclones last season.
Now in Savannah, the 23-year-old is picking up right where he left off.
On April 9 against the Augusta GreenJackets, Morris struck out nine batters in three innings of relief. In the eighth, Morris recorded the elusive four-strikeout inning when Augusta's Christian Paulino managed to reach on a wild pitch despite swinging through strike three. Morris proceeded to strike out the next three batters in a row, totaling four in the inning. Morris's April 9 effort was crucial as the starter that night, Ricky Knapp, was chased early in the game and the Gnats bullpen was stretched. Despite the Gnats' loss, Morris struck out nine of the eleven batters he faced that night.
"I was taking it batter by batter, but it was a little crazy," Morris told MiLB.com's Josh Jackson of his nine strikeout night.
The 6'1" reliever also earned his first win of the season on Sunday against the Rome Braves. Morris threw the last two and two-thirds innings while adding another three strikeouts to his league leading 18.90 strikeout-per-nine-inning ratio. Opponents are now batting just .048 against Morris, which ranks second among all league relievers.
Greensboro Grasshoppers infielder Avery Romero was also awarded weekly honors as Player of the Week.