Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Prime Pick Cards Still Marvel at Their Luck in Landing Morris

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Prime Pick Cards Still Marvel at Their Luck in Landing Morris

Article excerpt

Baseball's amateur free-agent draft on Tuesday will be the fourth headed up by Marty Maier, the Cardinals' scouting director. But no matter how many he takes part in, none is likely to rival the coup the Cardinals pulled in the 1995 draft when they got righthander Matt Morris with the 12th choice.

Maier said he had Morris ranked behind only outfielder Darrin Erstad, who wound up being the No. 1 selection by California. But he reasoned there was no way Morris, a hard-throwing righthander from Seton Hall, would last long enough for the Cardinals to get him. "He was the best college pitcher in the draft," Maier said.

At a certain point, Maier said the Cardinals stopped scouting Morris "because we're not going to get this guy anyway." But then he began talking to other scouting directors and "not hearing good things" about Morris. "I'm hearing that he wasn't throwing as well." So Maier dispatched scout Marty Keough to see Morris again and Keough's report was as positive as Maier's. Still, Maier didn't figure Morris would last that deep in the draft. Finally, the day before the draft, the Detroit Tigers, picking in front of the Cardinals, indicated an interest in either Morris or Wichita State righthander Mike Drumright. Jeff Scott, the Tigers scouting director who, ironically, works for the Cardinals now, asked Maier which pitcher he preferred. "Drumright, of course," Maier said. Lying, of course. "I wasn't going to tell him I liked Morris." Sure enough, the Tigers took Drumright and left Morris to the Cardinals. Now, according to Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, Morris is the best rookie pitcher in the National League. Morris (2-3) doesn't have much to show for a 2.64 earned-run average. "We really haven't got him much run support," said center fielder Ray Lankford. "But he doesn't complain. He just goes out there and pitches." Though Morris gives the impression he isn't overwhelmed by his surroundings, he allows himself a little awe once in a while. "With every ballpark I go into, I walk out of the dugout and kind of smile to myself," he said. "I don't let anybody see it. I don't let anybody else know. …

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