Morimando Making His Way at Double-A Akron
Danny Madden | On 19, Aug 2014
For the past few seasons, the Indians have not been very deep with their pitching. This season especially has especially expelled this weakness as the rotation has been a revolving door except for Corey Kluber. There are a handful of pitchers that the Indians should be interested in watching develop over the next few years, but a guy that they should especially be keeping their eye on is lefty Shawn Morimando for the Double-A RubberDucks.
Morimando, 21, was originally drafted by the Indians in the round 19 of the 2011 First Year Player Draft. In each of his seasons of pro-ball, he’s never posted an ERA higher than 3.73. He only spent six innings in the Arizona league in 2011. In those three games, he never received a win, but he did post an ERA of 3.00 along with 8 strikeouts and only 2 walks. He was then promoted to Low-A Lake County in 2012 where he started 22 games and had a record of 7-6 and posted an ERA of 3.59. In this season, he pitched a total of 110.1 innings and was able to get 69 strikeouts to go alongside his 52 walks. Morimando isn’t a strikeout pitcher by any means. He tends to rely on his breaking pitches and try to induce groundballs.
In 2013, Morimando was promoted to High-A Carolina where he seemed to struggle more than he had in his previous two seasons. In 27 starts, he post an 8-13 record with an ERA of 3.73. In his 135 innings of work, he increased his strikeouts from the previous season to 102, but he also walked more batters as he walked a total of 76 players. Even though he still had a pretty solid year, Morimando was sent to Carolina again at the start of the 2014 season to continue to develop and improve on his previous season. To say that he accomplished this feat would be an understatement.
Knowing that he had to improve on his previous season, Morimando turned it around after starting the season in Carolina for the second time. He took his opportunity by the reigns as he posted an 8-3 record with a 2.99 ERA in 18 starts. In 96.1 innings, he struck out 70 and only walked 30 batters. He had improved on walks, and also increased the amount of batters that he walks per nine innings. After making a spot start in Akron, he was later promoted again to Akron for a permanent role in their rotation.
“I’m happy with it. Things are going well for me this year. I’m working on a lot of things. My mechanics, and being aggressive and so far it’s been paying off,” Morimando said.
In his spot start that he had with the RubberDucks, he made quite the impression as he pitched a shutout game over six innings where he only gave up five hits and struck out six and walked one. He earned his first Double-A win in the game and was then optioned back to Carolina. Manager Dave Wallace got his first look at a potential lefty that could benefit the team later in the year during a playoff push. That is exactly what Morimando is providing.
The big part of Morimando’s game is being consistent with his delivery. This is something that any pitcher would like to achieve, but Morimando has made a point to really focus on this, and it seems to be working out for him this season.
“Every time I’m out there just give the team a chance to win, and keep them in the ball game,” Morimando said. “If I can do that, you know, everything else will take care of itself. As long as I do what I have to do, go deep into the game, and keep our club in the game. I think that’s all we can ask for.”
Earlier in his career, Morimando began to feel like he wasn’t hitting his spots as well as he had hoped. In order for him to start being more consistent, he decided to rework his delivery. If you watch Morimando pitch, it looks like he’s almost pitching at of the stretch, but it’s not quite exactly the stretch.
“I used to be straight up earlier on, like a few years ago,” Morimando said. “There was just too many moving parts. My delivery kind of hindered me from throwing strikes and locating my pitches. The past year and half-two years, I’ve really been working on turning my body a little bit so it’s less moving parts so I can get the positions that I need to. It just helped me out throw more strikes.”
This approach also helps Morimando with his deception.
“You don’t really see the ball very well in my hand until I release it,” Morimando said. “So it’s a positive since I always have an advantage if they can’t really see the ball until it’s out of my hand. So the hitters probably aren’t very comfortable up there.”
This type of pitching style is not common amongst most pitchers. With Morimando being a lefty, along with his interesting pitching style, he has plenty of advantages on the mound against the hitter.
After starting out his Double-A career on a high note, Morimando is starting to scuffle a bit in his last few starts. Over his last four starts, he hasn’t given up less than three runs in each of his starts and has gone 1-3 over those starts. After giving up 5 runs in 3 innings of work, Morimando was able to bounce back nicely in his following start where he gave up 3 runs in 6 innings, but he struck out 7 batters and walked 2 batters. Since Morimando relies on his offspeed pitches so much, he has to make sure he masters his pitching sequence to setup his breaking balls. He was able to show his mastery of this during this start.
“It’s just about pitching and execution. Executing on pitches, and throwing where I want it to. The results are that I got a handful of strikeouts. At the end of the game, that’s all you can ask for,” Morimando said.
His following two starts, Morimando didn’t fare as well as he gave up four runs in both of these starts. He only struck out 5 batters between the two starts, but he also only walked 2 batters. Even though he gave up four runs in both of these starts, he still went 6 innings and gave his team a chance to win. That’s the job of a starting pitcher, to keep their team in the game and try to go deep into games. Regardless of giving up a quality start, Morimando still gave his team a chance to win.
Being a left-handed pitcher is going to give Morimando a step up on some pitchers in the Indians minors due to the lack of quality left-handed starters in the upper level minor league teams for the Indians. Morimando has been impressive in every level he’s reached so far, but he’ll need to get back to throwing consistently and staying focused on the game if he hopes to keep progressing in the Indians system. With the playoffs coming up for the RubberDucks, and they’re right in the thick of things being only half a game out of first, they’ll need Morimando to get back to throwing quality pitches and giving them a chance to win. Morimando knows that he can do this, and will hope to bounce back soon.
He was given this chance to pitch for the RubberDucks for a reason, and he’s going to continue to take the opportunity given to him and show his team how he’s here to win.
“Every time I’m out there just give the team a chance to win, and keep them in the ball game. If I can do that, you know, everything else will take care of itself.”
Photo: Akron RubberDucks