How The West Was WonNotebook
Washington has developed a tradition of producing quality catchers, having had eight drafted since 1998, including four drafted in the top four rounds during that 18-year span. Austin Rei is the most recent. He was selected in the third round at No. 81 overall by the Boston Red Sox in 2015, making him also the highest draft pick the program has produced since Lindsay Meggs took over the program in 2009.
But Rei could soon have company.
In a conference that was stacked with catching prospects last season (five catchers were named to the 32-player All-Pac-12 roster), Joey Morgan has been the best defensive catcher in the Pac-12 the last two years and his bat is beginning to catch up this season. Morgan was under the radar to begin the season despite the All-Pac-12 acknowledgement last year, but he’s drawing more and more buzz as the season progresses.
Morgan has been a foundational rock for the Huskies helping bridge the gap between a veteran lineup that is having to rely on some young arms at times.
“It’s great to get some offense out of Joe, but Joe’s catching freshmen, he’s catching seniors. He’s catching guys that are making their debut in the Pac-12 for the first time. Sometimes you want it over here and it ends up over here,” Meggs said reaching across his body to mimic catching an outside pitch that missed an inside spot.
“We couldn’t ask for more out of a guy that just really sits quietly, catches the ball — takes a lot of pride in that and gives our pitchers confidence that they can bounce a ball in the dirt and is also going to come back and get a big hit for you.”
It’s the second part that has boosted Morgan’s stock this spring. After hitting .263, 6, 29 last season, he is the team’s second leading hitter this year. He leads the team with a .456 on-base percentage and though he hasn’t hit as many home runs, he leads the team with 12 doubles and 24 RBIs.
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