Gnats' Morris mows through GreenJackets

In relief appearance, Mets righty prospect fans nine over three frames

Right-hander Akeel Morris was selected by the Mets in the 10th round of the 2010 Draft. (Fred Devyatkin)

By Josh Jackson / | April 9, 2014 11:48 PM

In his second relief appearance of 2014, Akeel Morris did what relievers hate to do -- walked the first batter he faced.

"I was just trying to find the plate," the Mets prospect said. "It took a little time to find it, but I'm glad found it."

And did he ever. After the base on balls, Morris whiffed nine -- including four in one frame -- of the 11 total batters he faced while not allowing a hit in three innings of relief in Class A Savannah's 8-3 loss to Augusta on Wednesday. He entered in the sixth and pitched through the eighth, throwing 47 pitches -- 32 of them for strikes.

"It was a pretty good outing [despite the loss]," the 23-year-old righty admitted.

Following the walk to fifth-ranked Giants prospect Christian Arroyo, Morris struck out three in a row. Two of them went down on three pitches apiece.

"My confidence was way up. I had good confidence in my fastball and I was throwing it down," he said. "I threw a couple changeups too."

He retired the first hitter of the seventh, the GreenJackets' Ryan Tuntland, on three pitches via a flyout. Leonardo Rojas and Ty Ross then both whiffed on a combined total of nine pitches.

Facing Christian Paulino to start the eighth, Morris lost control of his 1-2 delivery, but still ended up with a punchout. Paulino swung and missed at the wild pitch, but he was able to reach first base before the throw from Sand Gnats catcher Colton Plaia.

"I didn't focus on it enough, and it missed the plate," said the St. Thomas native.

The mistake ended up setting up a rarity -- the four-strikeout inning. Still, Morris would have settled for striking out just three in the frame.

"I mean, it's cool to see that," he said, "but you're trying to get the three outs the one time. I was fortunate to be able to strike out the fourth guy."

He'd "suffered" such a fate once before, as a teenager.

"I did it in 13-15 leagues one time," Morris said, "but this was my first time in pro ball."

Although Morris, who's in his first full Minor League season, tried to stay focused on getting the next out, he confessed to noticing he was piling up an abnormal amount of strikeouts.

"I was taking it batter by batter, but it was a little crazy," he said.

No. 10 Mets prospect Gavin Cecchini had an RBI single and scored once for Savannah.

Augusta's Arroyo, who entered Wednesday's action in a 2-for-23 slump, was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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