For this Fifty Prospects In Fifty Days segment, we’re looking at two guys that are knocking on the door of The Show from AAA Gwinnett.
29. Akeel Morris, RHP
Age: 25 | Throws: R
2.65 ERA | 3.18 FIP | 36 G, 0 GS | 54.1 IP | 4.14 BB/9 | 10.27 K/9
Current Assignment: Class AAA Gwinnett
Acquired: Trade w/New York Mets – 2016
Midseason 2017 OFR Ranking: 44
History: Morris was a 10th-round selection by the Mets in the 2010 draft out of high school in the U.S. Virgin Islands and was traded to the Braves in June of 2016 for Kelly Johnson. Morris had a sip of coffee with the Mets in 2015 during a moment of bullpen desperation by the team (lolMets) and was put on the 40-man roster. Morris had been a steady riser for the Mets, pitching to a 0.63 ERA in class A Savannah in 2014 and a 2.05 in A+ and AA ball in 2015. For Mississippi, he had a 2.27 ERA with a .209/.318/.256 batting line against in 2016.
Morris started the 2017 season back in Mississippi, but got a quick promotion to Gwinnett after 6 scoreless outings. His first taste of AAA ball went well, and he ended up pitching to a 3.09 ERA in 30 appearances, striking out 53 batters in 46.2 innings. Morris finally made his Atlanta Braves debut on July 8, and he made 8 appearances with the big league club during the month, surrendering only one earned run in 7.1 innings while striking out 9. He did throw 52 pitches in a 10-3 loss to Arizona on July 26, and he only had one more outing before being sent back down to Gwinnett. Morris was not added to bullpen when rosters expanded in September.
Pitching: Morris is a fastball/change-up reliever with good separation in velocity between the two pitches. His fastball can crank up to around 98 when he needs to, but he typically runs it up to between 92-94. His change-up can be one of the more devastating pitches thrown by anyone in the Braves system due to his ability to sell the pitch as a fastball and get great late movement. He also has a breaking ball that he uses more as a “show-me” pitch and rarely gets it close to the strikezone.
Morris typically will succeed or fail in a given outing depending on home much control he brings to the game. Morris has a long, overhand motion that can get off just a bit and cause him control issues. Morris needs to work on being more efficient with his pitches; he occasionally falls in love with the change-up, and when hitters are able to sit on it, they can create long innings.
What’s Next: Morris should be given a long look for the Atlanta bullpen for 2018, but he’s just as likely to return to Gwinnett. In either case, he has the stuff to potentially be a key middle reliever for the big league squad before the end of the year.
28. Kade Scivicque, C
Age: 25 | Bats: R
.270/.326/.365 | 98 wRC+ | 5 HR | 0 SB | 7.0% BB | 18.6% K
Final 2017 Assignment: Class AAA Gwinnett
Acquired: Trade w/Detroit Tigers – 2016
Midseason 2017 OFR Ranking: 33
History: The Braves acquired Scivicque on August 16, 2016 from Detroit in the Erick Aybar deal, one of several catching acquisitions made by the Braves in the last 18 months to address what they considered the main point of organizational weakness. Scivicque was selected in the 4th-round of the 2015 draft out of LSU, where he started his junior and senior years . Scivicque was having a solid season at high-A level Lakewood at the time of the trade. After a few weeks at the high-A level, Scivicque was called up to Mississippi to fill in for injured catcher Joe Odom, and he stayed with Mississippi during their 2016 playoff run. Scivicque was a star in the first round against Pensacola, having a 4-for-4 and then a 3-for-4 game. The Braves sent Scivicque to go to the Arizona Fall League after the season where he continued his good work, hitting .378/.410/.486 in 10 games.
Scivicque started the 2017 season back in Mississippi, where he was the primary catcher for the squad. He hit .269/.319/.363 for the team will getting high marks from the young pitching staff for his game calling. When catcher Alex Jackson was promoted to Mississippi, Scivicque got a matching promotion to AAA Gwinnett, where hit .272/.344/.370 the rest of the way.
Offense: Scivicque has a simple swing with minimal leg kick, and he looks to shoot the ball back up the middle. Scivicque is a solid 6′-0″, 225 pounds and he swings the ball hard, but rarely elevates the ball, limiting his power potential. A focus on his swing could possibly unlock some of that power, but Scivicque is firmly a defense-first player and the occasional good BABiP-inspired hot streaks that Scivicque can get on should be considered a bonus. Scivicque has catcher speed and is strictly a base-to-base runner.
Defense: Scivicque is not a tooled-up catcher with a canon arm, but he does a lot of the little things right. He’s a good blocker with steady hands that frames pitches nicely. He has good footwork that helps make up for an average arm. What stands out for Scivicque are the intangibles; he gets high marks for handling pitchers and calling games and is considered a high make-up guy with strong leadership skills. Overall, the guys screams “future major league back-up catcher”.
What’s Next: With Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki set to return as the Atlanta catching tandem for 2018, Scivicque is probably ticketed for a return trip to AAA Gwinnett. While Alex Jackson’s bat is more likely to propel him to a future starting catching roll, Scivicque is setting himself up to be that dependable, defense-first back-up catcher in the molds of Eddie Perez and David Ross.