Most of us that are of a certain mindset have the checklist already ingrained in our psyches. “He’s hit well in the minors, but as a first baseman, he’ll have to crush to play at the MLB level.” Or: “Having another catcher about is nice. If he does the little things, like calling a game and having some offensive pop, he can be a useful backup even without a high average.” How about: “As a center fielder, his ability to stay there in MLB is huge. Otherwise, he becomes a platoon guy, or has to hit like a left-fielder or throw like a right-fielder”. Or: “As long as he can handle third, he should be fine,” along with: “If he can get three pitches over for quality strikes, he can remain a starting pitcher.” Some players? That isn’t necessarily how it works.
Christopher Morel, utility
Born June 24, 1999. Santiago, Dominican Republic
Signed by the Cubs as an international free agent
When I thought of the term “avant-garde,” Morel’s article wrote itself, almost. When you think of the old, crusty archetypical baseball coach from the 1950s, Morel is on the opposite side of the spectrum of about everything. He’s flashy. He’s very versatile. He wears his emotions very visibly, and they aren’t limited to his sleeve. He has inordinate amounts of fun, every game. Occasionally, he strikes out.
Morel played nine games in Iowa in 2021 at the end of the season. He started all nine: Two in center field, one in left, one in right, four times at third base and once at second. He went the distance all nine times, not changing positions in any of them. He made one error over the nine games, at third base. His OPS was .705 over the stretch, homering once, walking four times, and fanning 10.
What is Morel for the future? I have no idea, and have no idea to whom you’d use as an archetype. Nor why an archetype would be useful. Morel gonna Morel, whatever that ends up being.
I can guess two things with relative certainty about Morel. He will be assigned to major league training camp once the lockout is over, as he’s on the 40-man roster, and will be sent to Triple-A Iowa just about 15 days before the MLB season starts. That will be an interesting time for organizations, as players from big league camp will be optioned back, creating a severe case of “reverse energy,” with players being dropped from one level to a lower level, whether they’ve struggled or not. And, one or two of you will be thinking or saying “Can’t we keep this ‘fun to watch’ guy, instead of (theoretically insert name here)?”
Morel is not a finished product, and no, he’s not sticking around the big leagues to ride the bench. He will go to Iowa, where you can tune into the I-Cubs broadcast or Twitter feed to see where he’s playing that night. I still have no idea if he’ll hit, but he certainly is fun.
Is fun allowed in baseball yet?
Game of the year last night for the Smokies. Rallied from down 9-6 in the 9th. Who else but Christopher Morel to come up with the biggest hit of the night! pic.twitter.com/yALRuBTunX— Frank La Sala (@franklasala) September 9, 2021
First Triple-A hit is in the books for Christopher Morel! pic.twitter.com/s7IBIXbPCJ— Iowa Cubs (@IowaCubs) September 24, 2021