Bryan Morris became the second former Motlow Bucks player to play in the major leagues when he took the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates and pitched a shutout inning against the Chicago Cubs on Friday, Sept. 14 in Chicago.
Morris joins former Motlow pitcher David Weathers as the only Bucks to reach the major leagues. Weathers, who played at Motlow in 1987 and 1988, pitched 18 years in the big leagues before retiring two years ago.
Morris played his prep baseball at Tullahoma High School, where he was named a Louisville Slugger All-American following his senior season in 2005. He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the third round following high school, but chose to attend Motlow instead. Bryan’s father, Ricky, was a sixth-round draft pick by the Minnesota Twins in 1968.
Morris had one of the best seasons in Motlow pitching history in 2006, compiling a 10-1 record with 122 strikeouts and a sparkling 0.82 earned run average. He was drafted in the first round, the 26th player chosen overall, and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers following his freshman season at Motlow.
He was acquired by the Pirates from the Dodgers on July 31, 2008, along with Andy LaRoche, in a three team deal that also sent Jason Bay from Pittsburgh to Boston, Manny Ramirez from Boston to Los Angeles, and Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen from Boston to Pittsburgh.
Bryan missed the 2007 season due to a shoulder injury that required Tommy John surgery. Although he was a starting pitcher throughout his career, his move to the bullpen late in the 2011 season at AAA Indianapolis improved his velocity and increased his success on the mound. Morris had a 2.67 ERA with 79 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 81 innings with Indianapolis this season.
He was called up in late June by the Pirates, but after spending only one day in Pittsburg and not appearing in a game, he was sent back to Indianapolis. With the major league roster expanding to 40 players in September, he finally did what only one other Motlow Buck has ever done.
Morris pitched another inning on Tuesday, Sept. 18 against the Milwaukee Brewers, allowing a pair of hits and one earned run as the Pirates dropped a 6-0 decision.