Signed as part of the Phillies J2 IFA class out of Venezuela in 2016, Morales received $900,000, the most they gave a pitcher in that class. Morales has an intriguing blend of size, stuff, arm action, and projectability to consider him one of the top pitchers in their organization.
At 18 years old, Morales is larger than his listed weight; perhaps closer to 200 pounds presently, but he still has leanness throughout his frame, and he could add 10-to-15 pounds. Morales has a clean arm action with quality arm speed, though his release point can wander. His fastball has gradually improved, whereas last year it was 91-to-93 mph, it now sits 92-to-94 mph, and it has the potential be a future plus-or-better offering. What gives Morales a higher ceiling than other teenage arms is his feel for his 81-to-84 mph curveball, which is also a future-plus offering. It shows hard action with plus depth that he can throw to both sides of the plate for a strike, or use it as his primary chase pitch. His changeup has improved, but he often gets on the side of it and drops his slot slightly, which can result in more of a BP fastball than a true changeup look. It’s a needed third pitch, and it should develop with time given the clean arm action.
Morales is still a raw prospect, and he needs to add muscle on his frame to add some durability to withstand a pro workload. He has a high ceiling—potentially a mid-rotation type arm—and he’s likely to begin next season at Class A Lakewood to start making that case.