Profile: OF - 6'0" - 185lbs -BT:R - TH:R - 2011 Age: 21
• Hit: 40-50
• Power: 45-60
• Eye: 40-50
• Range: 50-55
• Hands: 45-50
• Arm: 50-55
• Run: 50-55
In what strikes me as a sad statement, Morales is one of an increasingly smaller number of talented young players to come out Puerto Rico over the past ten years. That's largely the result of MLB instituting the draft in a nation without any organized high school baseball - a discussion for another day. The Twins made him their 3rd round pick in 2007 based on almost nothing other than impressive raw tools and really good makeup.
While Morales has come a long way with his game since being drafted, he still has holes in his swing. He has a tendency to open up too early and there is some unnecessary movement in his swing which can also get long. None of these things lend themselves well to great contact rates. Still, Morales has an solid ability to square the ball up and his quick hands, powerful frame, and uppercut swing enable him to drive the ball for consistent power while projecting for more.
In the field Morales' tools are also strong. He's got solidly above average speed and reads the ball well off the bat, taking solid routes. He also possesses an above average arm and projects as a solid center fielder or plus right fielder. Morales' speed also translates on the bases where his legs have the ability to allow him to steal 20 bases per season, though he still needs to work on sharpening up his base stealing reads.
Morales is still young for his age, and his performance has always been consistently above average regardless of where he's played - something that's true even of his stint in High A this year. I've said this before and I'll say it a thousand more times, the Florida State League is a brutally difficult on players, who averaged an OPS of just .688.
He's shown a plenty of power throughout his career, and even though much of that wasn't evident in 2010, the raw tools that allowed him to launch 15 home runs in just 180 Rookie Ball at-bats - or 13 in just 376 A Ball at-bats are still there.
The big concern is, as it always has been, the strikeout rate. He's average or better in essentially every other regard, but his strikeout rates have been consistently abysmal and if he can't improve them, he's unlikely to have a MLB future. If he can however his ceiling is quite high.
I've been high on Morales since he was drafted. He's an extremely hard worked and a plus character young man. He understands that strikeouts are an issue and has worked hard to improve. I still think he can improve the rates by 5-10% and get them into an acceptable range. If he can, he's going to be a very solid player.
Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest as well as a proud contributor to both 612Sports.net, 312Sports.com, and 313sports.com. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery.