Akeel Morris is a Virgin Islands born reliever. Morris, 22, was selected by the New York Mets in the tenth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft as he opted to forgo college to enter baseball out of Charlotte Amalie High School in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
In 41 (57.0 innings pitched) games last season, Morris posted a 0.63 ERA as well a 0.719 WHIP en route to 4-1 record prior to being called up this offseason to the Mets 40-man roster.
New York Sports Hub recently caught up with Akeel Morris to discuss his career in the MiLB, life as a baseball player, and more.
Jordan Panitch (J.P.): Having been born in the Virgin Islands, a country without a strong baseball foundation, what inspired you, or got you into playing baseball?
Akeel Morris (A.M.): My parents got me into the sport. I started playing at the age of six and grew to love the sport.
J.P.: Which ballplayers did you look up to as a kid and which ballplayers do you continue to be influenced by today?
A.M.: I was a shortstop growing up so I looked up to Derek Jeter. When I started pitching I really took interest in Tim Lincecum and Josh Beckett.
J.P.: What did you do differently in terms of your approach to pitching that made you nearly un-hittable this past season?
A.M.: Yes definitely. I feel like my approach from the 2013 season carried over into the 2014 season, which was to go right after guys, put the pressure on them, and, of course, trust my stuff.
J.P.: What was the decision like to go directly from high school to the Mets organization?
A.M.: Well deep down I knew I wanted to play pro-ball and take that opportunity. I still had to think about school and different scenarios. But I felt it was a win win situation with what the MLB scholarship program offers on your contract.
J.P.: Explain the transition from starter to reliever. Has it changed your approach at all in facing batters? How did you arrive at the decision to make the transition?
A.M.: No not dramatically and and it was a organization decision. I just tried my best to do my best in whatever role they saw fit for me.
J.P.: Outside of yourself, how do you feel about the progress of the New York Mets organization?
A.M.: The New York Mets organization progression speaks for itself. Everyone can see it. It’s on the rise. From the teams making the playoffs to winning minor league championships. I feel like the organization is definitely progressing as a whole and it’s exciting to see that and to be a part of that progress.
J.P.: On November 20th, you were officially added to the Mets 40-man roster. When you were notified, what was going through your head? Were you excepting to be called up or was it a surprise?
A.M.: When I was added to the roster my I was in complete silence for a couple seconds. In that time I thought about the work and the road it took to get there and I was just grateful and thankful to God. The next thing I thought about was going to Spring Training with established big leaguers. And that I’m eager to pick some of those guys brains and learn from their experiences and whatever they know. It’s exciting.
J.P.: Since becoming a part of this organization, has there been anyone in particular who has been pivotal in your development?
A.M.: I’ve learned different things from pitches coaches that has been helpful so far. Miguel Valdes has helped me very much with mechanics.
J.P.: As we enter 2015, are there any specific goals you have set for yourself? Where do you envision yourself one year from now?
A.M.: The only goals I have for myself in the upcoming season is to be effective and get guys out at wherever I’m pitching.
J.P.: Outside of baseball, what are some of your interests?
A.M.: I listen to music often, I love following sports (basketball to be specific), and I love traveling.
To the New York Mets fans, I definitely feel the support and love you show to the players and the organization. I’m proud to be a New York Met.” – Akeel Morris
New York Sports Hub would like to thank Akeel Moris for conducting this interview with us. We wish him the best of luck and much success during the next season and beyond (with the Mets, of course!).