Cleveland Guardians: 3 pitchers who could provide depth to the 2022 rotation

Eli Morgan #49 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Eli Morgan #49 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /
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Cody Morris: Next in the Pipeline

Cody Morris is a name that gathered quite a bit of attention as the Guardians transitioned into the offseason following the conclusion of the 2021 campaign. Morris was a big question mark to make the 40-man roster leading up to the crunch preceding the postponed MLB portion of the Rule 5 draft.  Ultimately, he would be added to protect him from pitching-hungry teams that likely would have taken him in a heartbeat following his solid 2021 season between Akron and Columbus.

Morris came to Cleveland as a 2018 seventh-round draft pick out of the University of South Carolina, where he excelled as a starting pitcher for the Gamecocks in the SEC. Morris collected a career total of 122 2/3 innings during his collegiate career, piecing together a 3.52 ERA during his two seasons. As a pitcher with decent weapons and good control of his pitches, he was the kind of college arm Cleveland often seeks to acquire and develop.

Morris started his professional career in Cleveland’s organization with the Lake County Captains in 2019, and would throw 45 innings to the tune of a 3.20 ERA. Upon a promotion to then-High-A Lynchburg, Morris would be tagged with a 5.52 ERA over 44 more innings to round out his first full season in the organization.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the mitigation efforts to curb the spread of the virus, Morris would lose his entire 2020 season, along with the rest of Minor League Baseball.

Coming into 2021, Morris projected to start at High-A or Double-A, ultimately ending up in Akron to get his season started. His stint with the RubberDucks would be successful, as he put together a solid stat line of three earned runs across his twenty innings, totaling a 1.35 ERA. By the beginning of August, Morris would be promoted to Triple-A Columbus, where he would continue to pitch well. Totaling 36 2/3 innings to end 2021, he would fashion a 1.72 ERA with the Clippers.

Looking forward at 2022, Morris is an extremely interesting option for the rotation should depth be needed. He features a low-to-mid ’90s four-seam fastball, as well as a good 12-6 curveball and fading changeup in his arsenal. Although his four-seamer could use some seasoning, he throws his curveball for strikes and has good movement on the change. He could potentially benefit from adding another iteration of his fastball or another breaking pitch, as well as working on pitching deeper into games to start this season (which he will presumably do in Columbus).

What is notable about Morris’ upside is good command of his pitches, his ability to avoid the long ball, and solid strikeout potential. Whether he can translate his career numbers in the minors to major-league success remains to be seen, but given his development from his time in Lynchburg through Columbus last season, there is plenty of reason for optimism should Morris be called up to lend crucial depth to the Guardians’ rotation in 2022.