Adam Morgan provided another reason why Jesse Biddle’s expected climb through the minor leagues to an eventual spot in the Phillies’ starting rotation is so intriguing.
The two men were teammates last season at single-A Clearwater and there is a panoramic photograph just outside the clubhouse that captures the players and the crowd celebrating immediately after the Phillies won the 2008 World Series. The same photo hangs just outside the clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park.
“Every time we walked past it, he’d tell me how he is in that picture,” Morgan said last week during the Phillies’ prospect training seminar. “You can see the back of his head and he’s in a Phillies jacket. He would always show us where he was at in the crowd. You can really see him.”
Biddle, the team’s 2010 first-round draft choice, was a 17-year-old high school junior at Germantown Friends School when the Phillies won the World Series. This season, his fourth in professional baseball, he is slated to open the season at double-A Reading.
That’s where Morgan, a third-round draft choice in 2011, finished last season. Although he is not as physically imposing or highly touted as Biddle, the 6-foot-1 Morgan has opened the Phillies’ eyes with his performance to date. He went a combined 8-11 with a 3.35 ERA at Clearwater and Reading last season after getting a better grasp on how to throw a changeup and adding a few miles per hour to his fastball.
His promotion from Clearwater to Reading in the middle of the season took him by surprise and made him realize how close he was getting to the big leagues.
“I never thought that I’d get to double-A so fast, but I wasn’t going to let that intimidate me,” Morgan said. “I took it stride by stride and just relied on what got me there.”
Morgan, a lefthander, did not leave Alabama with all that impressive of a resume. The Marietta, Ga. native had a 4.64 ERA his junior season when he was drafted and a 6.18 ERA in 18 starts as a sophomore.
“At Alabama, I had a lot of peaks and valleys,” he said. “I would always try to correct something when I was going bad.”
Morgan, 22, said developing a changeup and a consistent routine has helped him become a better pitcher.
“Developing the changeup was huge, but really knowing what worked for me … and staying disciplined to that routine even when I didn’t have a good game was even more important,” Morgan said. “Sticking with my routine no matter what really helped me out.”
Morgan said Clearwater pitching coach David Lundquist was vital to his success last season, but he also kept in contact with Lance Carter, his first professional pitching coach at Williamsport in 2011. Carter was the pitching coach at the University of South Florida in Tampa last year.
“He could me once every few weeks and ask me how I was doing,” Morgan said. “He’d keep me on track. He’d say, ‘You’re having a great year, but don’t slack off and think you’re some hot shot. Stay humble.’ That’s what I have prided myself on.”
It’s possible Morgan and Biddle could be teammates at the start of this season at Reading. It’s also possible they’ll eventually be teammates in Philadelphia, where Biddle will get to point out again exactly where he is among the crowd in the photograph that celebrates the Phillies’ 2008 World Series title.