Throughout the 2016-17 offseason, Fish Stripes is counting down the top 100 all-time Florida/Miami Marlins. Using Wins Above Replacement (WAR) as the yardstick of choice, the 100 highest cumulative ratings are represented in this countdown. Today’s player, Bryan Morris, earned 2.7 while with the team.
Morris is a 6’3”, 220 lb. right-handed pitching, left-handed hitting fireballer from Tullahoma, Tennessee. Born on March 28th, 1987, he was drafted out of Tullahoma High School by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the third round of the 2005 amateur draft, but elected to spend a season with Motlow State Community College. The move paid off, and the Los Angeles Dodgers selected him in the first round of the following seasons’ amateur draft, 26th overall. Also going in the first round of that draft were Evan Longoria, Andrew Miller, Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, Max Scherzer, and Ian Kennedy. Catcher Hank Conger went one pick before to the Anaheim Angels, and outfielder Jason Place went one pick after to the Boston Red Sox.
Morris reported to the Ogden Raptors in the Dodgers’ Pioneer League rookie level affiliate after his selection, where he put up a 4-5 record over 14 starts. He earned a 5.13 ERA, struck out 79 in only 59.2 innings, and finished the season with a 1.743 WHIP to his credit.
After missing 2007 entirely, Morris spent the first part of the 2008 campaign with the Great Lakes Loons of the single-A Midwest League, going 2-4 with a 3.20 ERA, a 1.286 WHIP, and 72 whiffs over 81.2 innings pitched. On July 31st of that season, he was sent off to the Pittsburgh Pirates as part of a three-team, six-player trade that also involved Manny Ramirez and Jason Bay. He joined the Hickory Crawdads in the single-A South Atlantic League, going 0-2 over three starts and allowing eight earned runs in 14.1 innings.
2009 would see Morris spend the entire season with the Lynchburg Hillcats, in the single-A Carolina League. He took 15 turns in the rotation, going 4-9 with a 5.57 ERA, a 1.665 WHIP, and just 32 strikeouts in 72.2 innings. The following year would see him split his time between the high-A Bradenton Marauders (eight starts, 3-0, 1.61 ERA, 40 K’s in 44.2 innings, 0.985 WHIP) and the double-A Altoona Curve (19 games, 16 starts, 6-4, 4.25 ERA, 84 K’s in 89 IP, 1.326 WHIP).
After a 2011 campaign spent entirely with the Curve (35 games, six starts, 3-4, 3.92 ERA, 64 whiffs in 78 IP, 1.346 WHIP), Morris joined the triple-A Indianapolis Indians in 2012. He came into 46 games for them in relief, going 2-2 with a 2.67 ERA, a 1.148 WHIP, and 79 strikeouts in 81 innings. He joined the Pirates in September, and aside from the odd rehab appearance didn’t again spend any time in the minors. He struck out six over five relief innings for the Bucs, allowing only two hits and one earned run.
2013 would see Morris fill an integral role for the Pirates, appearing in 55 games in relief. He posted a 5-7 record with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.308 WHIP over 65 innings, striking out 37 batters and holding opponents to just 7.9 hits per nine innings pitched. 2014 started with him going 4-0 over 21 appearances, with a 3.80 ERA, a 1.563 WHIP, and 14 K’s in 23.2 innings. On June 1st, the Pirates sent him to the Marlins for a 2014 competitive balance round A pick (Connor Joe).
After joining the Marlins, Morris went 4-1 over 39 appearances, giving up just three earned runs over 40.2 innings for a 0.66 ERA and a 1.107 WHIP. He whiffed 36 batters and allowed just 12 walks over that span. On July 1st, he earned his sixth win of the season (and second with the Marlins) by pitching the 10th and 11th innings of a 5-4 victory against the Philadelphia Phillies. He allowed zero baserunners and struck one batter out.
2015 would see Morris ranking third on the Marlins with 67 appearances, with a 3.14 ERA, a 1.476 WHIP, and 47 K’s in 63.0 innings. He also led the team with parcity of home runs allowed, giving up just three over the whole season. On September 12th, he pitched two perfect innings and struck out three Nationals in a 2-0 victory over Washington. On September 26th, he entered a 3-2 lead against the Atlanta Braves with two outs and the bases loaded, and struck out Adonis Garcia (see below) to preserve the lead. Miami won the game, 6-2.
Morris remained in Miami’s bullpen to start the 2016 campaign, and posted a 3.06 ERA and a 1.415 WHIP in 17.2 innings. On May 26th, he was moved to the injured reserve list with a lumbar strain which eventually resulted in surgery, ending his season early.
Morris signed a free agent contract to play for the San Francisco Giants on December 9th, 2016.