Class A Advanced's Down East Josh Morgan wasn't thinking about a long ball when he stepped into the batter's box with the bases loaded and the game tied in the ninth inning Sunday.
"I was just looking for something up, knowing that I only needed that one run ... trying to get like a sac fly or try and drive something," Rangers' No. 13 prospect said. "It starts off with guys getting on before me because I wouldn't have been in that position. Obviously, if the guys before didn't have good at-bats. So it was great to see everyone on base."
Gameday box score
Morgan promptly bashed the first grand slam of his career over the fence in left-center field to give the Wood Ducks a 10-6 walk-off victory over the Buies Creek Astros at Grainger Stadium. The homer was the fourth of year and second in as many games for the third-round pick in the 2014 Draft.
"The home runs are going to come, so I [just want] to continue to have good at-bats, drive the ball and let everything take care of itself," he said. "You're always making little adjustments throughout the year because you're never going to feel great for a whole year, so I think I'm swinging it well right now. Obviously I'm going to try to continue to do this and get some more wins."
Morgan grounded a single to left in the fourth and lined an RBI single to left in a four-run sixth. It marked the first five-RBI performance of his career and came with a bonus for the 21-year-old.
"It's a blessing to be able to do it, especially on Mother's Day. I know my mom and family were listening, so it was really fun," Morgan said. "I get to give my mom a nice little phone call. She'll probably be talking my ear off for a couple hours, but I'm really happy that this happened on that special day for her."
The Corona, California native is playing in his second season at the Class A Advanced level, but his first in the Carolina League as the former High Desert Mavericks moved from the California League prior to this season. Morgan's .269 average is down from the .300 mark he posted last season on the hitter-friendly circuit, but that isn't weighing heavy on his mind.
"The biggest adjustment I feel like, for me, is not being able to eat In-N-Out after the game," Morgan joked before noting the difference in pitching approach. "I think the California League -- obviously the ball flies over there -- but they had more guys throw cutters, and this one has more guys that can command a slider. Every pitching staff has something different that they have to offer."
The Orange Lutheran (CA) High School product started behind the plate Sunday after playing shortstop in the first two games of the series. Morgan was known as a versatile infielder when he broke in, but did not catch at the professional level until this season.
"I don't know if it was a certain guy, I know the Rangers came up to me and talked to me about it. We had a couple conversations about it. I just wanted to do whatever it took to get me to the big leagues," he said. "I feel like it was a good decision so far and we'll see where it takes me. Obviously, you got to stay confident because it's a whole different mind-set behind the plate."
In 31 games this season, Morgan has played 16 at shortstop and started 12 behind the plate, filling in at third three times.
"I have a whole new respect for catchers and it's a lot of hard work. You've got to take care of your body a lot more, a lot more ice baths, a lot more foam rollers and stuff like that," Morgan said. "I like it, it's been a good experience so far. I think I'm surrounded with great teammates and a great coaching staff that have been helping me throughout everything."
Down East rallied against Buies Creek reliever Carlos Sierra in the ninth after Patrick Sandoval walked Eduard Pinto and LeDarious Clark singled to start the frame. Tyler Sanchez was walked intentionally and Josh Altmann drew a base on balls to tie the game ahead of Morgan's grand slam.
Ryne Birk singled four times and plated three runs and Myles Straw tripled and scored once for the Astros.