Staring down, it wasn’t just another home plate.
In some ways, Elliot Morris did a double take Wednesday afternoon. Three years ago, he was touring Safeco Field with his Federal Way High School baseball teammates, ready to take on Kentwood in the Class 4A semifinals. And on this day, he was actually there for the big league team.
The Seattle Mariners wanted him to come in for a brief workout.
“I threw a bullpen session today,” Morris said, “and I met a lot of people.”
On Thursday, Morris – now the graduating ace pitcher for the Pierce College Raiders in Lakewood of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) – is hopeful he will hear his name called in the 2013 major league draft.
The big 6-foot-4, 205-pound right-handed pitcher is projected to go anywhere from the third to seventh round. He is also being scouted as a two-pitch reliever (fastball, curve ball) or possible starter if he can develop a change-up.
Morris left Federal Way in 2010, and took the only scholarship he was offered – Pierce College. He was a soft-bodied pitcher with unrefined mechanics. And during his first fall season, he tore the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow that kept him out a whole year.
In some ways, the time off was good. He knew he had to change a few bad habits, Pierce College coach Kevin Davis said.
“He flipped a switch, and went from a bad-work-ethic kid to one I could not get him to stop running,” Davis said. “He was constantly weight-rooming and running.”
Morris then returned to Pierce in a limited capacity in 2012. But this season, he returned to anchor the Raiders’ staff – and led the NWAACC in strikeouts (95K in 66.1 IP).
“He was a different kid on the mound – more confident,” Davis said. “Slowly the velocity came back – and kept climbing.”
Suddenly, that fastball that sat in the 86-88 mph range in high school pumped up to 92-94 mph.
“The (injury) worked out for the best,” Morris said. “I came back a little bit stronger, and threw a bit harder.”
Morris is thought to be the first player from Pierce College drafted since the 1980s, said athletic director Duncan Stevenson. He is going to sit through the MLB draft Thursday with family and friends at home.
“Low key,” he said.