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Morimando Creates More Depth and Has Become a Pitcher to Know

Morimando Creates More Depth and Has Become a Pitcher to Know

| On 17, Dec 2015

Every team would love to have pitching depth. The Indians discovered in 2015 that they actually have quite some good depth in the upper levels of their farm system.

In Double-A alone, they had Michael Clevinger, Adam Plutko, and Ryan Merritt breaking out in more ways than one. Fans also saw the emergence of current Indians pitcher Cody Anderson in a huge way.

Among these fine pitchers, there was another guy there that was enjoying a strong season of his own, and that was southpaw Shawn Morimando.

Morimando was a guy this season that kind of fell back into the rotation, and went almost unnoticed. While everyone was focused on how well Clevinger, Plutko, and Merritt were doing, Morimando was putting up just as strong of numbers. At only 23 years old, Morimando posted a record of 10-12 and an ERA of 3.18. He threw in 158 2/3 innings and had a K/9 of 7.3. In 2014, he had a K/9 of 6.1, so he vastly increased his strikeout rate between the two seasons.

Morimando is an interesting pitcher to keep an eye on. He creates great deception in his pitching style. He has a sort of twist that he creates through his torso to hide his pitch. It’s very similar to how Johnny Cueto rotates his core in his windup.

Being left-handed is also a huge factor for Morimando. A soft tossing lefty seems to be a higher commodity over a mid-ranged right-handed pitcher these days. Being a lefty alone will keep the Indians interested in Morimando.

One of his biggest flaws though is the amount of runners he gives free passes to. In 2015, Morimando had a BB/9 of 3.7, which was a full batter higher than in 2014. Morimando has to work off of his fastball in order to be successful, but he tends to have trouble locating it from time to time.

There are a lot of moving parts in Morimando’s pitching style, which leads to issue with his control. He knew that this was his biggest flaw during the season and focused on fixing this issue. Whenever a pitcher is going through a transition period when working on their mechanics, it can lead to inflation in runners allowed or runs earned. This is exactly what had happened to Morimando.

In the first half of the season, Morimando walked 44 batters. In the second half though, he trimmed that number down to 21.

Regardless of how many free passes he inevitably gave up, he always found a way to get out of a tough inning. When Morimando isn’t striking someone out, or drawing a walk, he is predominantly a ground ball pitcher. About 38% of balls put in play end up being ground balls. That being said, he also had a pretty healthy defense of Todd Hankins, Ronny Rodriguez and Eric Stamets behind him to help in the defensive department.

Due to his high groundball rate, Morimando rarely gives up a home run. In 2015, he kept his HR/9 down to a miniscule 0.5. That’s incredible for a soft tossing lefty like Morimando.

The Indians rewarded Morimando for his great season at Akron by adding him onto the 40-man roster this winter. This enabled the Indians to protect him from being taken in the Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings this past week. It goes to show that the Indians believe that Morimando will be able to help out the Tribe in some fashion in the coming years. With the Indians pitching depth being so deep, and that the rotation already has five solid starters in Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer, and Cody Anderson, it’s unclear what Morimando’s role could inevitably become. Right now, he is probably best suited to be a fourth or fifth type starter, but with the lack of left handed relief in the Indians system, he could very well become the next big lefty reliever for their bullpen.

The future is still unclear for Morimando, but what we do know is that he is continuing to develop himself into a solid option from the left side. Whether or not he actually makes it up to The Show as a permanent piece remains to be seen, but it is comforting to know that there is depth in the farm system. If he can find a way to command his fastball at a more consistent rate, Morimando may become one of the better pitchers in the Indians upper level minors.

Having good pitching is nice, but having strong pitching depth is even better.

Photo: Dave Monseur/MiLB.com