Morgan has become one of the top catchers in college baseball and a likely early-round selection in next month’s MLB draft.
The meetings with and calls from major-league scouts have become part of the daily routine for Washington catcher Joey Morgan.
Like a curveball in the dirt, he handles their myriad off-beat questions as well as he can.
One team recently asked him to fill out an exhaustive 350-question survey. Another scout asked if he had any siblings — and if his siblings had any pets.
“Like, why in the world do you need to know that? How is that going to affect my draft stock?” Morgan recalled with a laugh during an interview Wednesday at the Huskies’ baseball facility.
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The quirky questions follow Morgan’s quirky route to becoming one of the top catchers in college baseball and a likely early-round selection in next month’s MLB draft.
If his original plans had taken shape, Morgan would be playing for one of UW’s biggest rivals, the Oregon Ducks. Instead, in August 2014 — just a few months after Morgan had graduated from Sisters High School in central Oregon, and just a couple of weeks before he was to report to Eugene to start fall baseball practices — an Oregon coach called and told Morgan his scholarship and his roster spot were being rescinded.
“It was devastating, especially being from a small town in Oregon. It’s a big deal to a lot of people there,” said Morgan, Oregon’s Class 4A prep player of the year in 2013.
“I was committed and signed (with the Ducks) for over a year, and then at the last second they had some different stuff happen, I guess, with some of their recruits. So things didn’t work out.”
Morgan wasn’t in limbo for long. A few days later, UW assistant coach Donegal Fergus called and offered Morgan a spot on the Huskies’ roster — with a catch. Morgan would have to come to UW initially as a walk-on. Morgan was intrigued, so he took a quick visit to UW — the first time he’d ever stepped foot on the campus.
“I knew nothing about UW,” he said. “Then when I got here I was like, ‘Oh, this is really nice. I should have visited before.’ ”
Two weeks later, Morgan moved to Seattle.
The dramatic shift in plans are rather fortuitous now for both Morgan and the Huskies, who despite a current four-game losing skid are projected to make the NCAA postseason field for the second year in a row. The Huskies(24-21, 10-11 Pac-12) host Arizona State for a key series starting Friday at Husky Ballpark.
Morgan is a primary reason for the rosy postseason outlook. Through 44 games, the 6-foot, 205-pound junior leads the Huskies in most major offensive categories — batting average (.347), on-base percentage (.451), slugging (.507), doubles (13) and RBI (35) — and he’s thrown out 10 of 20 would-be base-stealers this season.
Last month, he was named the top catcher in college baseball by the website D1baseball.com.
“Joey’s been great back there. He’s, from my perspective, as good as there is on the West Coast, catch-and-throw,” UW coach Lindsay Meggs said.
Morgan is lauded for his calming presence behind the plate, which has been critical during an up-and-down season for the Huskies’ young pitching staff.
“I love throwing to Joey. He’s a great wall back there. He’s old reliable,” said staff ace Noah Bremer, who like Morgan is a potential early-round draft pick next month.
A lifelong San Francisco Giants fan — he was born in the Bay Area before moving to Sisters at age 8 — Morgan idolizes Giants All-Star catcher Buster Posey. And much like Posey, Morgan appears so calm on the field that it’s difficult to gauge exactly when he’s happy or mad or somewhere in between.
“The best thing going for Joe is sometimes his most challenging thing: He’s got a real steady motor,” Meggs said. “So you like that behind the plate because he’s really consistent, but sometimes we like him to get going a little bit more in terms of the energy when he’s in the batter’s box.
“Once he figures out that balance, he’s going to be a really good player — he’s going to have a chance to catch in the big leagues. He can really catch.”