Hunter Morris Concludes His Dream Season With Arizona Fall League Invite

Hopefully Hunter Morris has a nice trophy case at home because the list of awards he received in 2012 is quite long.

Southern League Most Valuable Player, Brewers Minor League Player of the Year, Topps Southern League Player of the Year, Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove Award–just to name a few.

It might sound cliché, but Morris credits his on field success this year to old-fashioned hard work.

“It was a long process and a lot of work went into what I accomplished this year,” Morris said.  “I think it was a combination of things as far as success on the field.  I have put in a lot of work defensively and that helped my all-around game, but l certainly didn’t take any days off from working on my offense and maintaining my swing.

The awards were a byproduct of hard work.  There were certainly a lot of guys who were deserving of those awards I received.  I consider myself lucky and fortunate to be on the receiving end of those awards.”

Morris nearly had a Triple Crown as he led the Southern League in home runs (28), RBI (113), hits (158), slugging percentage (.563), total bases (294) and extra-base hits (74).  He finished fourth in the league with a .303 batting average.

“My consistency throughout the year was the biggest blessing I had,” Morris said.  “If something went wrong, I was able to fix it within a few at bats or a game or two.  Keeping those peaks and valleys to a minimum as far as the success and the struggles is important.  I was able to go out and focus on playing hard, rather than over-thinking things.  It was easy to relax and play.”

Hunter Morris bats in today's Arizona Fall League game at Peoria Sports Complex.

Hunter Morris bats in today’s Arizona Fall League game at Peoria Sports Complex.

Not only did Morris turn in stellar numbers at the plate, but his fielding was an important part to his MVP season.  He had a .995 fielding percentage and committed only six errors in 136 games played.

“Hunter has improved a lot defensively,” said Brewers President – Baseball Operations and General Manager, Doug Melvin.  “He looks a lot more fluid out there at first base.  His work with Bob Miscik, our roving infield instructor throughout the year was key and the repetitions he has received at the Fall League will continue to help.  We debated sending Morris to the Fall League because of the season we had, but the competition is good for him and will help him cap off a great year.”

Morris also credits Huntsville Stars Manager Darnell Coles—who is in Arizona serving as Hitting Coach for the Phoenix Desert Dogs—with a lot of extra defensive work this month.

“Working with Darnell has been great,” Morris said.  “He has really worked hard with me on getting better defensively, he has done everything I could have asked of him.  He played some first base in his career, understands the position and helped me out a ton.  My defense can always get better and I want to get better throughout my career.”

Hunter Morris works on fielding with Darnell Coles prior to today's Arizona Fall League game at Peoria Sports Complex.

Hunter Morris works on fielding with Darnell Coles prior to today’s Arizona Fall League game at Peoria Sports Complex.

A unique part of Morris’ dream season was the fact that it took place in his hometown of Huntsville, Ala. often in front of family and friends.

“Having the season I had in front of my family and friends at home certainly made it a little more special,” Morris said.  “Baseball is baseball, you have to go out and play no matter if you are 3,000 miles away from home or in your own backyard like I was, but it was certainly nice to be home with my wife and son every day.

That was a huge blessing for me, but at the same time, it kind of takes away from baseball.  There were days when I was taking my son to doctor’s appointments at 8 a.m. on game day when my teammates were sleeping in.  Fortunately, I was able to put my family first and still have that proper balance of performing well on the field and focusing on baseball.  I loved every minute of being able to spend the season with my family, it was great.”

Entering today in Arizona, Morris was hitting .268 with one home run and six RBI, modest numbers compared to what he put up during the regular season, but Morris has played over 160 games since Spring Training and he is focusing on how to fight through the fatigue of a long season.

“I have struggled a bit at the plate out here, but that is probably a product of having played baseball since February 10th of this year,” Morris said.  “That is also one of the learning curves I need to go through to train myself to get through 162 or 175 games instead of 140 games.  I’m preparing myself to get through longer seasons.  It’s not going to happen overnight, but being here helps me work through struggles.  I’m just trying to build on the season I had, there is not a whole lot I am looking to change from the year.”

Today was Morris' 16th game at first base for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League.

Today was Morris’ 16th game at first base for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League.

This is Morris’ second stint in the Arizona Fall League.  The Brewers drafted him in 2010 and he received an invite from the club to play after his first professional season.

“Certainly a lot more twists and turns a few years ago, but this was my first truly long season that I have had.  Last year and the 2010 season is nowhere near the length of time that I have been playing this year.  It is a great situation for me to come out here and play with a lot of great guys, build relationships, make friends and work on fundamentals.  The experience as a whole, you are getting something out of it no matter how you perform.”

It seems as though Morris will make the move up to Triple-A Nashville from his hometown Huntsville Stars in 2013, but he is not taking anything for granted at this point.

“A lot of that is out of my control,” Morris said.  “I’m going to go home, take a week off, pick up right after Thanksgiving and get in the weight room to work on conditioning.  It will be a short offseason, so I have a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time.  I’d like to be in better shape come Spring Training, which can be a challenge, but I plan on going home, working hard and continuing to build on this season.”

Morris can be found on Twitter @HunterMorris15.

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

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