Straight to the Majors: Mike Morgan
Over the extended weekend of the Field of Dream series the Yankees played against Garrett Crotchet, a relief pitcher for the Chicago White Sox who throws hard, pitches well, and has yet to ever play a game in the minor leagues. After getting drafted 15th Overall in the 2020 MLB Draft, he signed, and went straight to the majors.
This got me wondering about what other players were who went straight to the MLB, of which there have been 22 since the MLB Draft was implemented in 1965. Over the next few weeks there are 11 players who have played for the Yankees while making their professional debut at the MLB level.
Today’s player is: Mike Morgan
Road to the Show:
Mike Morgan was drafted 4th Overall in the 1978 Draft by the Oakland Athletics out of Valley High School (Las Vegas, NV) and was immediately thrown into the fire. He pitched a complete game at the MLB level during his first professional game (at just 18 years old), allowing just 3 runs in a loss to the Baltimore Orioles. However this would be a part of Morgan’s losing his first 3 MLB games and had a quick relegation to Triple-A. For 1979 the A’s tried Morgan again after he had a good season in Triple-A (3.48 ERA over 13 games), but after posting a 5.94 ERA over 13 games at the MLB level it was clear that he was overmatched.
Morgan would then spend the next 2 seasons (1980 and 1981) entirely in the minor leagues, in 1980 for the Oakland Athletics and in 1981 for the New York Yankees after they traded for Morgan with Fred Stanley. (I’ll touch more on his Yankee career later.)
Morgan would last one season in the MLB with the Yankees in 1982 and that offseason was sent to the Toronto Blue Jays (with Dave Collins and Fred McGriff) for Dale Murray and Tom Dodd. During this stint in Toronto, Morgan split time between the MLB and minors in 1983 before being taken in the Rule 5 Draft by the Seattle Mariners after spending all of 1984 in the minors (again).
By this time Morgan had been a member of 4 different franchises within his first 7 years in professional ball. And, this would become a common thing for Morgan as his career played itself through.
He spent from 1985-1987 with the Seattle Mariners, 1988 with the Baltimore Orioles, 1989-1991 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, 1992-1995 with the Chicago Cubs (before being traded midway through the season), 1995-1996 with the St. Louis Cardinals (before being traded midway through the season again), 1996-1997 with the Cincinnati Reds, 1998 with the Minnesota Twins (before being traded midseason), the rest of 1998 with the Chicago Cubs (and the only time in his career he went back to a previous team), 1999 was with the Texas Rangers, and 2000-2002 was with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
During all of these travels, trades, free agencies, and more, Mike Morgan ended his career with a 141-186 Record (0.431 WP%), a 4.23 ERA (97 ERA+), was an All-Star in 1991, and won a World Series in 2001…unfortunately.
By the time he retired, Mike Morgan set a record playing for 12 MLB teams (which has since been passed by Octaivo Dotel and Edwin Jackson). He is also one of only 29 people to play in the MLB in parts of 4 different decades.
Road to the Yankees:
Mike Morgan’s Yankee career lasted just over 2 years with one season spent entirely in the minor leagues (1981) and one season entirely in the MLB (1982). He was traded for on November 3rd, 1980 (for Fred Stanley) and was traded away on December 9th, 1982 (for Dale Murray).
During his one year in the MLB, Morgan was decent with a record of 7-11 (0.389 WP%), a 4.37 ERA (91 ERA+), a WHIP of 1.557 (4.45 FIP), 150.1 Innings Pitched, 71 Strikeouts (4.3 K/9), and 67 Walks (4.0 BB/9) while making 23 starts in his 30 appearances.
Though, Morgan almost didn’t play in the MLB at all for the Yankees. Before the 1982 season he nearly became a Texas Ranger 17 years earlier in a trade that would’ve sent Al Oliver to New York. However this deal was squashed by Oscar Gamble, who had an 8-team no-trade clause (which included blocking a trade to the Rangers). In the deal also included would’ve been Bob Watson (the future NY executive).
Unfortunately, that’s really all there is to say about Mike Morgan’s Yankee career. His story is mostly held up in the many (many many) moves he made in his career all across the MLB and his lengthy career.