(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
Cue “The Jeffersons” theme song as the Mets continue to use their wealth of talent in the farm system to re-supply the big club as the needs arise.
Akeel Morris is the latest to earn his “golden ticket” to the majors, called up on the 15th to re-energize the bullpen after that department had been stressed of late. The 22-year-old righthander made the colossal leap to the bigs from Single-A, an uncommon practice in any era, in part because he was already on the 40-man roster, but more so due to his extraordinary performance for the Port St. Lucie Mets in the Florida State League – 46 strikeouts in 32 innings, 13 saves in 24 games, 1.69 ERA, allowing just 11 hits and 14 walks. And he had already been named to the FSL All-Star squad.
Yeah, those numbers would earn Morris the Cat a spot on a roster!
Morris hails from the Virgin Islands, born and resides in St. Thomas, and is now the 12th major leaguer born in the Caribbean, including Original Met Joe Christopher. He was a 10th round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
Coming into this season, Morris had already impressed along various levels in the Mets’ system, racking up 288 Ks in 216 innings, with a 2.95 ERA.
Of course, the rookie was overjoyed at being called up. “My excitement level is through the roof,” Morris told the media. “That’s the dream. It can’t get higher than this. I was ecstatic.”
Morris made the big jump when veteran righthander Dillon Gee was designated for assignment. Gee had been struggling all season, endured a trip to the DL with a groin strain, and never found his rhythm to maintain his status in the rotation. He was almost an afterthought in the spring, only made the rotation due to Zack Wheeler’s injury, was footballed in and out of a six-man rotation idea, and finally DFA’d. The Mets now have the balance of a ten-day window to trade or release Gee, or award him in a waiver claim, but if he goes unclaimed, he might be reassigned to the Las Vegas 51s to find his touch once more.
Gee relies on guile and command, not speed. Morris relies on a plus-rated changeup, and a fastball in the 93-95 range.
The 6’1” righty is now wearing number 64, and is only the third Met to wear that designation. Although Dwight Gooden famously wore No. 64 in spring training in 1984 before officially making the club, previous owners of the 64 jersey have not enjoyed as much success, Elmer Dessens from 2009-10, and Josh Stinson in 2011.
Morris is now the eighth Mets rookie to be fiited for their first major league uniform with the club this season, joining Darrell Ceciliani, Danny Muno, Kevin Plawecki, Sean Gilmartin, Jack Leathersich, Hansel Robles, and Noah Syndergaard.
The team Morris left, the PSL Mets, are currently in second place in their division FSL, at 33-31, but 11 games behind the division-leading Charlotte Stone Crabs. (Aren’t some minor league team names, um, clever? unique? fun?)
Taking a quick look at the rest of the Mets’ system, in case you don’t follow it on an everyday basis:
Wally Backman has his Las Vegas 51s in first place (of course!) in their PCL division, 36-29, four and a half games ahead of the El Paso Chihuahuas! The Double-A Mets up in Binghamton, skippered by Pedro Lopez, are in fourth place in their eastern division in the Eastern League, just three games behind the leading New Britain Rock Cats.
The club’s “low-A” franchise, the Savannah Sand Gnats in the “Sally” League, the South Atlantic League, are in second place in their Southern Division, at 34-30, and just one game behind the Greenville Drive, 2.5 games ahead of the Augusta Green Jackets. (They’re very “green” down there. Another Sally club is called the Greensboro Grasshoppers.)
There’s more Morrises down on the farm, no doubt. Mets fans may see some more debuts soon, but the one they’re most anticipating is Stephen Matz. Mets GM Sandy Alderson wouldn’t put a date on it, but he did label the possibility, as “probable.” Stay tuned.
Last night’s comeback win by the Mets with 11th inning heroics by Wilmer Flores and Michael Cuddyer was manager Terry Collins’ 339th win as Mets skipper. This now ties him with Gil Hodges for the third most in team history, behind just Davey Johnson (595), and Bobby Valentine (536).
Hmm, what else do all these Mets managers have in common? Hodges, Johnson, and Valentine all took Mets clubs to the World Series!
Terry, are you next?
Last night’s win was credited to Hansel Robles for his first major league victory. On Sunday, Sean Gilmartin pitched two perfect innings against Atlanta for his first major league win. And according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other time the Mets had two pitchers earn their first major league wins in back-to-back games was in 1979, when Jesse Orosco and Mike Scott racked up their first Ws on April 22 and 24.