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Yohandy Morales, 3B – Drafted No. 40 overall by Nationals
|College||University of Miami (FL)|
|Bio||R/R 6-4, 225 lbs.|
|Date of Birth||10/09/2001|
Written by Brandon Tew
Yohandy Morales is one of the most intriguing college bats from the 2023 MLB Draft. He was a consistent performer for three seasons at Miami (FL) starting 174 games at third base for the Hurricanes.
Morales has big-time power from his extra-large frame, but there are concerns over his swing-and-miss. Although, he produces some eye-popping numbers in terms of exit velos with a 94.2 mph average EV and a 108.9 mph, 90th percentile mark, according to Baseball America.
Morales’ slash line improved gradually every season as he grew into his role as a run producer in the middle of Miami’s lineup.
As a freshman, Morales slashed .284/.343/.531 and backed that up with a .329/.411/.650 in his sophomore campaign. His HR and RBI totals also jumped with 11 and 18 HR and 45 and 59 RBI, respectively.
Morales established himself as one of the best 3B prospects heading into 2023 and lived up to that as a junior, slashing .408/.475/.713 with 13 2B, 20 HR, 55 strikeouts and 30 walks.
Morales starts his stance with his feet shoulder-width apart and has a tiny sink into his legs, almost as a timing mechanism as the pitcher begins his delivery. He has minimal movement in his lower half, with some bend into his back hips as he stacks his back side.
The barrel of his bat is squarely behind his head as he moves his hands back to create separation creating tension in his front shoulder and arm. The bat then turns upwards right before he starts coming forward.
Morales keeps his hands back as he drifts forward, creating a good position of power as he rotates and unleashes a powerful punch to the baseball with his front leg straightening out at contact.
His lower half is quiet, but some moving parts in his upper half can make it challenging to drop the barrel to the ball if he’s off time. His hands are so quick though he can still control the barrel and generate bat speed even when he’s out in front of pitches, especially non-fastballs.
His power and quick bat make him a dangerous threat at any moment in the game, and he hit some towering home runs last season.
Morales has an aggressive approach by hunting fastballs and trying to produce damage on these types of pitches.
He’s susceptible to breaking ball spin, and good breaking balls can cause him to swing and miss. He has trouble identifying spin at points, but it’s more his swing-happy approach that can get him into trouble.
Morales struck out in 20% of his plate appearances and walked in 11% of them. His whiff rate was 20% on fastballs, 37% on breaking balls, also per Baseball America. You would hope that seeing better breaking balls would get him thinking about being a more cautious swinger.
Morales tends to be on his front foot on breaking balls while looking for fastballs to crush. Fastballs on the inner part of the plate can also tie him up.
He does his most damage on pitches at the very top of the zone, though he does chase high fastballs a little too much. His fastball-first approach also causes him to freeze on slower pitches, especially curves and sliders.
It’s a fine line because if he’s sitting fastball either down in the zone or up, he can unload on pitches and turns his raw power into home runs. Morales knows his strength, and that’s punishing fastballs.
Two at-bats against James Tallon of Duke highlight Morales’ ability to hit the high fastball. He strikes out in the first at-bat, but in the second, he was sitting on a fastball and hit an opposite-field rocket out to tie the game.
When Morales gets behind in the count, he uses his quick hands to let the ball travel in the zone and shoot it the other way.
His barrel control also allows him to adjust and still square up the ball in an impressive manner during some at-bats. Morales has difficulty lifting pitches consistently at times.
On breaking balls or even sinkers and changeups, he swings down on the ball. His hard contact still manages results as grounders sneak through the infield regularly.
At higher levels of baseball, Morales will want to lift the ball just a tad more, but it’s fixable if his swing decisions improve.
Morales is a sufficient defender at 3rd base and has good range for his size but inconsistency in making all the plays. Also, if he were to add more weight to his frame, he could be pushed off 3B to 1B or LF. With solid hands to go with athleticism and a strong arm, he should be able to provide serviceable defense wherever he plays in MLB.
Morales is a big right-handed power hitter with plus power. His physicality and quick hands should produce plenty of pop from line to line. His inability to recognize good breaking ball spin may hinder him, but better swing decisions should help him cut down on swing-and-miss.
MLB Comp: Yandy Diaz