Mr. Morel is a big stepper.
Chicago Cubs rookie Christopher Morel didn't know if he was going to step to the plate Tuesday night. After all, the do-it-all third baseman had only just received a call up from the big league side earlier in the day.
Still, he was brimming with confidence. So much so, that he even called his shot, telling teammates Willson Contreras and Alfonso Rivas in the seventh inning that he was going to hit a home run if he came to the plate.
One inning later, he made his first major league at-bat. He made it a memorable one, lashing a 417-foot bomb into the left field bleachers and sent Wrigley Field, and his teammates in the dugout, into a frenzy.
Christopher Morel homered in his first Major League at bat— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) May 18, 2022
The bat flip. The reactions. Baseball is so special pic.twitter.com/jxYDHdRHgZ
What a way to make your debut!
The 22-year old showed just how much the moment meant to him. As the ball soared through the night sky, Morel launched his bat 10 feet into the air.
His teammates, especially Contreras, were pleased.
Really. How can you not be romantic about baseball? pic.twitter.com/FpkVUNQGtY— MLB (@MLB) May 18, 2022
Willson's reaction is everything. pic.twitter.com/8eTS9bPixK— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) May 18, 2022
“In this moment, I didn’t think too much. I just said, ‘Oh my God,'" Morel told reporters after the game.
His home run trot was even more frantic; Morel was so hyped that he forgot to touch first base. He eventually found his bearings, tracking back to step on the bag while letting out a few more impassioned fist bumps and arm flexes.
Morel's home run trot was a breath of fresh air; a baseball player who is actually excited to hit a dinger? Who would have thought?
Ranked the No. 16 prospect in the Cubs organization on FanGraphs, Morel boasts a multi-dimensional skill set that makes him an intriguing option for the rebuilding Cubbies going forward. Here's everything you need to know about Morel and his future prospects.
Who is Christopher Morel?
Signed for $800,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, Morel has made waves with the glove over the years. Morel notched 65/80 arm and 55/80 glove scouting grades, as well as 60/80 speed, according to MLB.com.
Most recently, Morel was at Double-A Tennessee.
At 5-foot-11, 145 pounds, Morel isn't the most imposing of players at first glance. What he doesn't have in raw power, though, he makes up for in versatility; Morel played nearly 100 innings at second base, nearly 200 innings at third base and right field, and nearly 300 innings in center field in the minors last season.
Morel's bat has always lagged behind, comparatively. However, he flashed an improved ability to make hard contact on the ball in 2022, slashing .303/.380/.565 in 28 Double-A games this year.
He's got decent pop, all things considered; Morel notched 41 extra base hits in 2021, including 20 homers.
However, that pursuit of power comes at a cost. Morel whiffs a lot; he had a strike out rate of nearly 30 percent at Double-A level in 2021.
In the world of three-true-outcomes baseball, Morel's strengths on the field and on the basepath — he snagged 18 steals on 21 attempts last year, a success rate of 85.7 percent — make him an alluring prospect as a potential utility players. Those type of players have real value, as they can fill a variety of roles in the field while opening space in the lineup for more valuable bats.
Morel also showed a burgeoning sense of plate discipline towards the end of 2021. In 39 plate appearances at Triple-A level, an admittedly small sample size, Morel walked six times, good for a walk rate of 10.6 percent. If he can prove that walk rate wasn't a blip but a sign of things to come, Morel's trajectory as a prospect may begin to look a lot brighter.
There are clear limitations in his game at the moment, that's for sure. However, with a decent glove, strong arm, positional versatility, and passion for the game that shone through on Tuesday night, it's clear Morel has an interesting future at the next level on the horizon.