Vernon’s Carter Morris is one of 33 players invited by Baseball Canada to the Junior National Team’s (U-18) annual Spring Training Camp, March 15-24, at the Walter Fuller Complex in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Morris is a 16-year-old, Seaton Secondary student. He is a 6-foot-1, 170-pound righthanded pitcher. There are six B.C. players invited with Morris the only one from the Interior.
The camp includes daily workouts, a six-game professional schedule against minor league prospects from the Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays organizations, with two intersquad games and an exhibition contest against the Fort Lauderdale Stars also planned.
This will be the seventh time in the last eight years that the Junior National Team has held its Spring Training Camp in St. Petersburg.
“We’re grateful for the relationship we have with Mayor Rick Kriseman and the City of St. Petersburg who’ve made us feel welcome since day one,” said head coach and Director of National Teams Greg Hamilton. “Our players are treated to a professional atmosphere that allows us to maximize training and development time for our program.”
Morris pitched magnificently for Atlantic Maroon (3-2) in their 5-4 victory over Ontario (3-2) Green in last September’s Tournament 12 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, earning the win by throwing four convincing innings and giving up just two hits while striking out seven.
Tournament 12 was a showcase of talent first and a competition second, so when Morris was promised another start despite his team, Futures Navy, being eliminated from competition, he was slotted into the Atlantic squad’s lineup for another chance to further showcase his talent.
“Coach promised me another start for Sunday, so I had a feeling that it was coming and that I would be starting for a different team today,” said Morris, still beaming from his excellent performance at Rogers Centre. “I just couldn’t wait to get back out there.”
Morris started the opening game of the tournament for Futures Navy on Thursday, pitching just two innings and allowing two earned-runs on four hits and three walks. Although he represented a different set of colours on Sunday, he understood that the goal remained the same. “It was a different experience, but I just have to do my job on the mound and not really worry about who I am pitching for,” Morris said. “No added pressure really, just getting a chance and doing my job.”
Morris also sparkled for Team B.C. at the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg. He pitched pitched a gem of a game as B.C. edged Saskatchewan 2-1. Morris was on the mound for 6 1/3 innings without giving up an earned run. Morris tosses a two-seam fastball that tops out at 87 miles an hour, while also having a slider and change-up in his repertoire. He compiled a 6-5 record with 49 strikeouts and a 2.65 ERA for the Kelowna-based Okanagan Athletics in the Premier Baseball League.
The highlight of the spring training week will come March 17 when the team will travel to Dunedin Stadium in Dunedin to take on a split-squad version of the Blue Jays. This is the seventh time in eight years that the two sides have come together for a game that has become a true celebration of the Baseball Canada/Toronto Blue Jays’ partnership.