The LA Angels made a move back in early June to shore up their Minor League depth by adding outfielder Gareth Morgan to their Class A Advanced roster, the Inland Empire 66ers.
Just as he has done many times LA Angels general manager Billy Eppler found a potential hidden gem off the proverbial scrap heap. Gareth Morgan spent 5 years with the Mariners and seemed to be going nowhere before finding his way to the Angels organization. Morgan has been working hard to find his swing, while also reducing his strikeouts. Over the last two months with the 66ers he’s finally done so. Morgan has hit 20 home runs for the Sixers in only 44 games which is staggering and he is hitting .290 while driving in 49 runs during that same span.
“I’m just trying to work hard to cut down my punch outs and make good contact at the plate,” Morgan said. “Hopefully I will get the chance to go up a level if I continue to play well. It would be a great opportunity.”
Morgan said this just one day before getting the word that he was getting promoted to the Angels Double-A team in Mobile. Morgan has earned his promotion, but there should be an assist given to Angels top prospect Jo Adell. Adell started his 2019 in Inland Empire and guys like Morgan were able to see some of the things it takes to get up to the next level from him.
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However, on more of a personal note Jo Adell, who has been in Double-A since leaving the Sixers in late May, was just promoted to the Angels Triple-A team the Salt Lake City Bees. Adell’s promotion opened up a spot in the outfield for Morgan in Double-A which ed to the call-up. This is not to say that Morgan did not deserve the promotion, but with Adell and another Angels’ top prospect Brandon Marsh both in the outfield for the Bay Bears, there just wasn’t room for Morgan on the roster. You wouldn’t want to promote a player if there wasn’t much playing time for him.
Gareth Morgan had played 394 games across 5+ seasons in the Minor Leagues before making his Double-A debut with the Mobile Bay Bears. The 2019 season has seen him slash .263/.315/.582 across three levels (including his Double A debut last night) with 21 bombs. Morgan is finding a more consistent approach at the plate after struggling to hit over .230 in a single season throughout his time In the Mariners organization.
Morgan is 2nd on the Cal League HR leader boards before being called up, and in his Double-A debut Morgan collected a hit in three at-bats. This season has seen Morgan rebuild his prospect value into something tangible; at the beginning of the season he came into the Angels organization as a minor league filler and throughout 196 plate appearances he’s molded himself into a fringe-prospect akin to Luis Rengifo when he first came into the Angels system.
Morgan’s biggest issues at the plate revolve around his propensity towards chasing and putting himself behind in the count. While he has been solidifying this part of the game there is still some development needed as his strikeouts sit pretty high, he currently has 116 Ks in 232 plate appearances. Most importantly he only has 14 BBs to those strikeouts. Morgan has struck out over 180 times in each of his last two years.
If Gareth Morgan can continue to keep his bat consistent enough to stick around in Double-A he should find all the experience and tools he needs to evolve his game into a more refined form. Aside from his 196 plate appearances with the Angels High A organization the most plate appearances he’s had in High A was his 334 PA’s with the Mariners High-A squad last year. In that 2018 season he hit 19 HRs, yet with the Angels he hit 21 HRs in High-A in almost half the plate appearances. There is very real growth happening with both Morgan’s swing and mental approach to the game.
“I just have to learn to have more plate discipline in order to cut down on my punch outs,” Morgan said. “I feel that I have been doing a better job of that this year, but I still have a ways to go.”
Morgan will look to fill the void for the Bay Bears left by Jo Adell’s departure. Adell had 8 HRs with a .302 average and a .553 slugging percentage in 43 games. If Morgan can continue to develop you may see him in an Angel uniform in the future.