Los Angeles Angels Spring Training Battles: 7th Inning Man

By Brian Helberg
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Feb 24, 2015; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Mike Morin (64) fields a ground ball during a work out at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Favorite – Mike Morin

Originally selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the 13th round of the 2012 draft, Mike Morin has sprinted through the minor leagues, making his Major League debut in 2014. Despite never appearing in a game higher than double-A prior to 2014, Morin pitched 59.0 innings in the big A last season. Last spring Morin was a relative unknown, but he ended up playing a critical role in the Halos’ bullpen. He utilizes a low 90’s fastball and mixes in a slider and changeup.

Apr 30, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Mike Morin (64) pitches for the save in the ninth inning of the game against the Cleveland Indians at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Angels won 7-1. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Morin came out of nowhere to dominate in 2014. The 23-year-old went 4-4 with a 2.90 ERA across 60 appearances last season. He struck out an impressive 9.2 hitters per 9 innings, and issued just 2.9 walks per 9 innings. The UNC alum did a great job limiting base runners last season, as he lowed just 1.186 walks/hits per inning. His 3.09 FIP was a middling number in the Angles’ pen, as was his 2.84 strikeout to walk ratio. Morin induced a solid 43.9% ground ball percentage in 2014.

Based on the Overland Park, KS product’s minor league career, he appears destined to have a very long and productive career in Anaheim. Morin pitched at three different levels in 2013, going 3-4 with a 1.94 ERA and adding 24 saves across 83.1 innings. He spent the majority of the season with the Angels’ double-A affiliate in Arkansas where he recorded 10 saves and posted a 2.03 ERA across 26 appearances in the Texas League. He averaged 9.6 strikeouts per 9 innings and allowed just 1.5 walks per 9 innings. He registered an incredible 6.60 strikeout to walk ratio as a member of the Arkansas Travelers.

FanGraphs steamer is projecting Mike Morin will go 2-2 and post a 3.52 ERA across 45 innings in 2015. They are expecting he will strikeout 8.09 batters per 9 innings and walk 2.90. I would be happy with these numbers, but I believe Morin will surpass these projections this season. He has the makeup to eventually step into the setup role in the future.

Next: The Underdog