Morris finds rhythm as Dogs drop Scorpions
Reigning Southern League MVP settles in as third week of AFL gets underway
Milwaukee's No. 7 prospect Hunter Morris collected three singles and four Phoenix hurlers scattered six hits Monday afternoon as the Desert Dogs topped the first-place Scorpions, 5-1, for their third straight win.
It was the first three-hit contest of the AFL campaign for the 24-year-old Morris, who hit .303 with 28 homers and 113 RBIs for the Double A Huntsville Stars this season en route to earning Southern League MVP honors.
A fourth-round pick out of Auburn in the 2010 Draft, Morris has emerged as a Triple Crown prospect -- he led all full-season Brewers farmhands in batting, homers, RBIs, hits (158) and doubles (40). He had a slugging percentage of .563 -- only Desert Dogs teammate Khris Davis' was higher at .604.
Morris has reached base in seven of his AFL games thus far, but has yet to flash his signature power or drive in a run, collecting 10 singles and one double.
"I've had some good games and some bad games -- a few more bad than good so far," Morris said. "I'm still trying to get back into my rhythm at the plate, so today was a good sign for me."
The Desert Dogs first baseman lashed line drive singles in each of his first three at-bats -- the first two to right field, with the third going up the middle.
"I've been seeing a fair number of breaking balls, especially early in the count," the cleanup hitter said. "That's not unusual, pitchers trying to work backwards like that against someone hitting in the middle of a lineup.
"Apart from the fact that you're seeing No. 1 arms every day, the big difference playing out here for me is that the pitchers only go a few innings. You never get that third or fourth at-bat against a starter, so you're seeing new arm angles and new pitches all the time. You have to make adjustments that much faster."
Morris and the Desert Dogs jumped out to an early lead with a pair of runs on three hits in the first inning. Phoenix second baseman Tim Beckham (Rays) tripled and scored in the second before tacking on two insurance runs in the fifth.
Center fielder Josh Prince (Brewers) went 2-for-4, lifting his AFL batting average to .441, and designated hitter Kyle Jensen (Marlins) had his fourth straight multi-hit game. Jensen is 11-for-19 with four RBIs in the four outings.
Braves prospect Zeke Spruill (1-0) continued to pitch effectively in his third AFL appearance, yielding three hits and a pair of walks over 3 1/3 scoreless innings. Spruill has recorded 15 groundball outs and one flyout in his 8 2/3 AFL frames.
Reliever Jimmy Nelson fanned four over two perfect frames before Johnny Hellweg yielded a run on two hits and two walks in the last two innings.
Joe Panik (Giants) and Tyler Holt (Indians) had two singles apiece for the Scorpions. None of Scottsdale's six hits went for extra bases.
Scottsdale starter Zach Nuding (Yankees) fell to 0-2 after allowing three runs -- two earned -- on six hits and a walk in three innings. He struck out one and saw his AFL ERA rise to 9.45 in 6 2/3 innings over three appearances.
Phoenix's third consecutive win evened its record at 5-5, while Scottsdale dropped to 6-6.
John Parker is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.