For about four months in Florida, Adam Morgan pitched his arm off and had just four wins to show for it.
On Thursday, that came to an end. At least the not-getting-wins part.
"I can only control so much, so the run support was awesome," the left-handed Phillies prospect said. "What can I say? It was a good outing."
The organization's reigning Minor League Pitcher of the Month held Trenton to one hit while striking out six over seven innings to win his Double-A debut en route to Reading's 4-1 victory over Trenton at Waterfront Park.
"It's great, a blessing," Morgan said. "It was just fun and I just wanted to not be too fine and to stay within myself. I'm excited to get here and it worked out for me."
Morgan, who left Class A Advanced Clearwater as the Florida State League's strikeout leader, allowed just three baserunners and threw 96 pitches in his first Eastern League start. He combined with Michael Cisco, Jay Johnson and Justin Friend on a two-hitter.
The southpaw's only mistake came in the second frame when Zoilo Almonte, the Yankees' No. 15 prospect, doubled to lead off the frame. Morgan walked Luke Murton to put two men on, but a timely double play and an inning-ending foul ball popup by Kevin Mahoney kept Morgan's line clean.
"The pitch was down and away, he was looking that way, took it that way," he said of Almonte's hit. "I had to buckle down, the next guy I walked on a changeup, a 3-2 changeup, it was a little outside.
"And Tug Hulett, my second baseman, he came out and said, 'You're one pitch away, settle down, take a breath, you got this.' And sure enough, I got a double play and was out of it."
Beginning with the double play, Morgan retired 14 straight batters before issuing a two-out walk in the sixth. The Alabama product then pitched a 1-2-3 seventh before stepping aside just short of the 100-pitch plateau.
"Those innings are nice, I didn't think too much about it," he said. "Just take it one inning at a time. Every time, my third baseman [Cody Asche] would say, 'Hey, two outs,' or 'One out.' So I took it inning by inning, and it seemed to work out."
The gem came less than two weeks after Morgan pitched 7 1/3 perfect innings before unraveling late in a loss to Jupiter on July 29. He dropped his last start for the Threshers on Aug. 3, but received a welcomed call to Double-A soon after.
"When they told me, I was ecstatic," Morgan said.
He made the trip to New Jersey this week to join Reading on the road in Trenton, making his third stop in the Phillies system.
"I didn't what to expect, but I picked some of the guys' brains -- some of the starters -- and they all said, 'Just do what you've been doing and pitch to contact, don't try to be too fine, they'll get themselves out.' And that's what I did."
Offensively, Reading gave Morgan a lead in the second on All-Star Troy Hanzawa's RBI double. Hulett reached on a fielding error by left fielder Rob Segedin in the fifth that allowed two more runs to score, and Tyson Gillies led off the seventh with his third homer.
For Morgan, the breakout season has put his arm on the radar after entering the year unranked among Philadelphia's top prospects. A third-round pick in 2011, he led the FSL with 140 strikeouts before his promotion, earning four wins and a 3.29 ERA in 21 outings over 123 innings with Clearwater in his first full season.
The Phillies named Morgan the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Month for July after he went 2-1 with a 1.56 ERA and struck out 53 batters in 40 1/3 innings. Then the promotion came.
Morgan said the R-Phils, just a short drive from Philadelphia, did their best to make him comfortable in the new clubhouse.
"I knew some of the guys from Spring Training and Clearwater, so it's a good group of guys," he said. "I came in, and I'm not a very talkative guy, but it's been really positive."
Morgan reflected for a moment on his journey so far, from Spring Training to a level that often is a player's most important stop in one's development.
"It's just, it's a blessing," he said. "Everything happens for a reason and I've gotta stay humble and keep working hard. It's been great, been a fun ride and hopefully I can keep it going."
In his 20 starts at Clearwater, Morgan held opponents to three earned runs or fewer on 16 occasions and walked just 28. He left the circuit with batters hitting just .227 against him. Two of his best starts in the Minors came in late July, when he struck out a career-high 13 batters over seven frames July 24 and followed that up by fanning nine over eight innings in a tough-luck loss to Jupiter five days later.
"Now that I'm here, I've got to start some new goals," he said. "My main goal was to make Clearwater, so this is a great opportunity the Phillies gave me, and I'm going to take advantage of it."