Inside Carolina talked with Morin on Wednesday as he waited at the airport to travel to Chapel Hill for freshman orientation.
Bio: The 6-4 right-handed pitcher was a late bloomer on the diamond because of an untimely injury, according to his coach at Shawnee Mission South. "He had some health issues early on in high school with some surgery on the elbow - the knob on the elbow,” Mitch Wiles said. “Somehow that bone got a crack in it and the ligament was pulling the bones apart, obviously causing some excruciating pain. He had a screw put in it and was out his whole sophomore season and came back his junior year. I did not throw him a whole lot his junior year because of that." Morin was honored last summer on the IBC World Series All-Tournament Team in Florida in addition to being the MVP of two regional tournaments.
Statistics: Morin started eight games his senior season and garnered a 7-1 record with one save in 11 appearances. His earned run average was 1.06 in 59.2 innings pitched while striking out 92 opposing batters against just 15 walks. He allowed 9 earned runs on 42 hits, with opponents batting .188 against him.
Recruitment: It can only take a few games to shape one’s future and for Morin there were two outings that changed his path. First was a cross-town rivalry matchup with Shawnee Mission East at the Kansas City Royals’ Kaufman Stadium. The Royals front office had a scout in attendance to see East pitcher Jeff Soptic throw against Morin, but Morin earned the win and caught the scout’s attention. The Royals selected Morin in the 40th round (ironically the Royals took Soptic in the 43rd round) of the 2009 draft.
Morin’s options appeared at the time to be pro baseball or Iowa Western Community College, but one more game changed that. “North Carolina contacted my dad after seeing my stats online and said they were immediately interested if I was,” Morin recalled. UNC pitching coach Scott Forbes flew out last month to see Morin pitch in the summer league against college-aged players and after watching his performance, Forbes invited Morin to visit Chapel Hill. "They came down and watched me pitch and I threw eight innings with 13 strikeouts and had a really good day," Morin said. "...and three days later I was on a flight to visit the campus and later they offered me and I accepted. It was a week and a half that it all happened. It was pretty crazy." Morin chose to sign with North Carolina over offers from Nebraska, Kansas State and Mississippi.
Why Carolina? : "They obviously have a really good baseball program - going to Omaha for four straight years with the College World Series - but the academic side ... my mom is really big into academics,” Morin said. “You cannot play baseball forever, so getting your education is important. That is a main focus: to get in and get an education."
Scouting Report: Morin throws four pitches – four-seam and two-seam fastball, curve and change. He throws from a high 3/4 arm slot and his fastball is in the low 90s right now. His 6-4 frame has plenty of potential for bulk with some work in the weight room at Bryson Field.
Coach Quote: "Mike is a very good student and works hard in the classroom,” Shawnee Mission South head coach Mitch Wiles said. “He works hard and competes at everything he does. He is a competitor. He has that fire and wants to compete, win and dominate. The bigger the game the better he was. His deal is that he can command his three pitches: his fastball, his curveball and his changeup. He can come in and when he is on - which is more times than not - command those pitches and throw them in any count at any time and get good results. That is pitching and what makes his pitching so difficult to hit. He wants to dominate and embarrass opposing batters. If he goes down there and they throw 20 pounds on him he could turn into a beast."
Future Plans: Morin is a “draft and follow” prospect for the Royals and is expected to be outside of their financial ability to sign. "It was something I always wanted to accomplish but I never thought it would be in high school," stated Morin about being drafted by the Royals. "It was my hometown team - and I have been to 15 Royals games this season like I always do. It is good to be drafted by the hometown team."
Wiles added: "It is about Mike getting an opportunity. What I always talk to all of the guys about is when you get an opportunity it is up to you to take advantage of that opportunity and not to think it will roll around every day. [After he signed] my comment to him was, 'Well the easy stuff is done now. That is about as easy as it is going to be for the remainder of your career.' He is really excited and I think he is going to do well."