Seton Hall pitcher Chris Morris was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 18th round of the MLB’s First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday in Secaucus, N.J., becoming the third Pirate off the board.
The Matawan, N.J. native was taken 554th overall, just ten picks after fellow Seton Hall pitcher Shane McCarthy, who was also an 18th round selection, drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. On Tuesday, Seton Hall’s Zach Schellenger was drafted in the sixth round (191st overall) by the Boston Red Sox.
For Morris, this moment of being drafted was a culmination of a lifelong dream that he knew he had the potential to accomplish.
“I knew in high school that I could do something like this,” Morris told The Setonian. “The thing I worked most on is having my head in the right place at all times. Baseball is a very mental game and if your head is in the right place, the game slows down right before your eyes.”
Morris saw limited action as a freshman but became a key part of Seton Hall’s pitching staff as a sophomore. In 2016, he appeared in 20 games, starting five of them. He tossed 38.1 innings, sporting a 3.65 ERA and recording two saves. He struck out 39 batters, opposed to just 16 walks. His best start that season came against Nebraska-Omaha on March 13, 2016, when he logged a career-high eight strikeouts and allowed just one run over 6.2 innings.
Morris said he was proud to see his work pay off and to have his teammates Schellenger and McCarthy start the same journey, as well as to start it with his family.
“All the work that we put makes it an unreal moment for all of us,” Morris said. “I was very happy to see my two teammates get drafted and continue their careers with professional baseball. I know they love the game just as much and me so it is great to know that we all get to live the dream.”
As a junior, Morris developed into being a pivotal part of the Pirates’ rotation, regularly appearing during weekend series. Appearing in ten games and making nine starts, Morris earned all three of his career wins, while fanning 44 batters in 40.1 innings. He had a career-best 3.57 ERA over the course of the season, and opponents also hit a mere .201 against him. His best start of 2017 came late, on May 5 against Creighton, where he allowed just two hits over six shutout innings, his longest outing of the season.
Morris is the first Seton Hall Pirate chosen by the Rangers since 2012, when Texas selected Ryan Harvey, also in the 18th round.
As far as Morris’ professional career goes, it will be beginning very shortly.
“I will be signing with the Texas Rangers,” Morris said. “I know they are a great organization and I think that they can help me reach my full potential and become the player that I want to be.”
Matt Lamb can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MattS_Lamb