Morrison rising, Halman struggling at AFL

November, 3, 2008

There are a couple of hyped, 21-year-old power hitters at the Arizona Fall League, but only one of them is worth the attention at the moment.

The Marlins' Logan Morrison, a big first baseman, was a 22nd-round pick in 2005 as a draft-and-follow. In 2007, he hit 26 homers at low Class A in his first full season as a pro. He followed that up with a .332 BA/.402 OBP/.494 SLG stat line in the high Class A Florida State League this past season.

Morrison has been showing big raw power, both in batting practice and in games here, including to the opposite field with an inside-out stroke. Not only does he have the power potential, but also the ability to make consistent contact to go with it. He does have a small hitch in his trigger and a tiny wrap in his swing, but the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder doesn't overswing and is handling balls on the inner half much better this year.

Athletic for his size, Morrison has a good arm and his defense at first base should not be an issue, despite limited range.

After showing he could handle left-handed pitching much better this season -- which was an issue in the past -- Morrison is likely on the fast track to a future as Florida's starting first baseman, with the potential to hit 30 homers in the big leagues and post a solid batting average.

• On the other hand, Mariners outfielder Greg Halman -- coincidentally just one day younger than Morrison -- is not looking so good at the Fall League. Halman was signed out of the Netherlands as teenager, and the 6-foot-4 right-handed batter has obvious athletic skills, but is starting to run into some issues against advanced levels of pitching.

Halman did hit .272 with 29 homers in a year split between high Class A and Double-A, but his 32 walks and 142 strikeouts illustrate some issues handling the strike zone. As of this writing, he's fanned 24 times and walked just twice in the AFL.

Halman has good bat speed, but his swing is long and he has trouble with pitch recognition. Sliders down and away, even out of the strike zone, are a big problem. He hasn't been able to adjust to the steady diet of breaking balls and offspeed stuff that he's been seeing, pulling off pitches on the outer half. He's really just a mistake hitter at the moment. He saw enough of them at the lower levels of the minors to make it work, but that is obviously going to change.

Halman is still young and a good raw talent, but there are some issues with his game right now. As I've said before, really good athletes get a little more of the benefit of the doubt because sometimes you need to be a bit more patient in waiting for them to blossom, but Halman is not going to make an impact in the big leagues in the near future.


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