Grateful for chance, Adam Morgan impresses

Phillies pitching prospect Adam Morgan. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Adam Morgan has no intentions of deleting this voicemail until there is another one more worthy. He was working out in Marietta, Ga., last December when a Phillies official called to extend Morgan an invitation to big-league spring training.

"December 18," said Morgan, who has the date memorized.

It will not be long until Morgan makes the walk from Bright House Field to the Carpenter Complex. The 22-year-old lefty has but six double-A starts. No matter how well he performs in this, his first real audition, Morgan is ticketed for the minors.

The goal is to make as good of an impression as possible. Morgan pitched two innings in Friday's intrasquad game and faced the minimum six batters. He struck out two — Ryan Howard and John Mayberry Jr. — while aided by two double-play balls.

"I'm playing for over a month with the best players in the world," Morgan said. "I hold myself to a high standard to go out there and I really believe I can compete with these guys."

Morgan is a fast riser. The University of Alabama product was selected in the third round of the 2011 draft, started at single-A Clearwater, and finished at Reading. In all, he totaled a 3.35 ERA with 169 strikeouts in 158 2/3 innings. He throws four pitches, a skill that had scouts gushing late last season.

On Friday, he froze Howard with a nifty back-door change-up for a called strike three.

Pitching coach Rich Dubee relayed a scouting report on Morgan, saying he succeed with various combinations of his arsenal on a given night. There are few better ways to describe a young arm.

Catcher Steven Lerud saw Morgan, along with Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin, all at double A in 2012. Lerud said Pettibone, considered the most polished of the pitching prospects, stuck out the most "just with his mound presence and ability to throw strikes at that age."

Pettibone was hit hard in Friday's scrimmage. He allowed three runs in 1 1/3 innings.

What impressed Lerud about Morgan was his confidence and ability to throw what he wants when he wants.

"He's going to be special," Lerud said.

And maybe, one day, the Phillies will remember the first impression he made in a meaningless intrasquad game.

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