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News » Colorado Rockies Inside Pitch 2009-03-01

Colorado Rockies Inside Pitch 2009-03-01

Colorado Rockies Inside Pitch 2009-03-01
It's now or never for Juan Morillo with the Rockies.

The right-handed reliever is out of minor league options, so if Morillo doesn't win a spot in their bullpen, the Rockies will have to place him on waivers before sending him to minors. And since Morillo regularly pitches at 95 to 97 mph, albeit with spotty command, and has been clocked in excess of 100 mph, the Rockies realize another club is likely to take a shot on Morillo's potential, since the cost for doing so is just the $20,000 waiver fee.

"With an arm like that, you can't make mistakes on it," pitching coach Bob Apodaca said.

Hence, Morillo will get an extended look in spring training, and it began Feb. 25 in the first Cactus League game against Arizona. The Diamondbacks loaded the bases with no outs on a walk, a single and a hit batter. But Morillo escaped by getting a lineout, strikeout and a groundout by Luke Carlin, who went from an 0-2 count to 3-2.

"Bad as it might look, it was something positive," Apodaca said. "He got out of the inning. That might be big for him. You don't know where the fork in the road might be."

Morillo issued 56 walks and struck out 55 in 59 2/3 innings last year at Class AAA Colorado Springs, where he was 1-0 with a 5.28 ERA in 52 games.

Morillo, 25, has played eight professional seasons. The Rockies had to put him on their big-league roster when Morillo was 21, knowing some team, tantalized by his live arm, would take him in the Rule 5 draft. Morillo has appeared in only five big-league games, the last four in 2007, but still has an arm brimming with promise.

At this point, he's not unlike Bobby Jenks, the highly successful White Sox closer who began his career with the Angels and never found his way with them. Jenks issued 270 walks in 391 innings in his minor league seasons with the Angels. The White Sox claimed Jenks off waivers in December 2004 and by the middle of the 2005 season, he was in the majors for good. Jenks has 117 saves in three full seasons as the White Sox's closer and has walked 30 in 126 2/3 innings the past two years.

"For all the cemeteries of dead arms, you get one like that, and he is the one people remember," Apodaca said of Jenks. "With arms like (Jenks and Morillo), you can't make the mistake. I'm sure the Angels exhausted every ounce of patience they could, but you do run out of time."

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: March 1, 2009

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