Prospect Report: Christopher Morel

Tooled out player with electric skills is starting to take the next steps

Chris Morel by Clinton Cole (@CDCole55)

How acquired: International Free Agency 2015

Christopher (Chris) Morel is an electric player who flashes unbelievable tools. With certain mannerisms reminiscent to Javier Baez (not comparing the two), Morel can bring fans to their feet with plays at the plate or in the field. There were positive reports of Chris’s progress at the Alternate Site in 2020. Consistency and health are the main factors holding him back from ranking higher. Strong results this year in AA might answer the question of who will be starting the majority of games for the Chicago Cubs in 2022.

Hit

Chris Morel has experimented with hand and bat placement through his pro career. Prior to his time in South Bend, Morel would lay the bat on his shoulder before bringing it through the zone. It was very unrefined. Early in 2019, Chris Morel started with his hands close to the center of his chest. As the summer moved along, he brought his hands up closer to a set hitting position. Morel has a wide stance with a lot of moving parts with his hands and leg kick. That appears to have been quieted down a bit with more experience, but it’s not a quiet swing. Quick-twitch athletes can make that work with strong, quick, hands. Morel definitely falls into that category. It’s unknown what that swing will look like in 2021, but there’s progress being made. The best way to describe approach is that Morel attacks pitches. He’s a hunter and aggressor. Sometimes that will lead to a lack of plate discipline, but he puts the ball in play and has speed to beat it out. It’s below-average hit right now based on my 2019 viewings, but I’d expect hit to sit with an average hit tool next year.

Power

It’s not the top power in the organization, but Morel can definitely flash plus raw power. He uses his line-drive swing to drive the ball to all fields, but most of his home-run power is to his pull side. The Cubs are working on that according to Chicago Cubs VP of Player Development, Matt Dorey.

There were some mechanical tweaks — staying shorter and staying through the ball — and using the big part of the field was a really big focus for him. Really driving to the right-center field gap because we knew he has a ton of power to the pull side.

Matt Dorey via Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic (subscription required and encouraged)

At present, I’d put this closer to average power, but 2021 against AA pitchers will provide context on the progress Morel has made with his swing.

Chris Morel Spray Chart (2017-2019) from Baseball Savant

Field/Arm

Chris Morel is absolutely electric. Unlike Andy Weber, who just makes all the plays look routine, Morel has some serious fun out there on the dirt. At this stage, I’d say his SS days are behind him, but at 3B or 2B, he could be very exciting. He’s more successful at 3B than anywhere else in the infield due to his strong arm. The Cubs have also discussed getting him out in CF more often.

The arm is plus as well. He’s dynamic from the 3B position. The arm has serious carry and it’d allow him to succeed in the outfield if he moves to CF.

Speed

Morel is high energy with a motor that feels like it’s missing an off-switch. When he drives a ball in the gap, he’s thinking triple. He has above-average speed which helps balls where he misses the barrel turn into infield singles.

Future Projection

Christopher Morel is your classic boom or bust prospect. He’s quick-twitch, but still refining parts of his game. The Cubs are very high on Morel and that should inspire confidence in him ironing out certain aspects of his game. This isn’t a player that you want to remove his aggressiveness since it does suit him well, but providing him the tools to improve on selective-aggression will help him thrive against more upper level pitching in AA. He’s slated to open the season in AA Tennessee alongside other exciting prospects like Brailyn Marquez and Brennen Davis.

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