By Yusseff Díaz
Adrián Morejon wasn’t great in his first season with the San Diego Padres. This offseason, he’s putting in the work to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Adrian Morejon of the San Diego Padres has been dominating batters since a very young age, the southpaw was the MVP of the U15 world championship in 2015 and then decided he would defect that same year. “That U15 tournament was an experience for me. It was a very competitive tournament. Some of the players I faced there I have also faced them in the minors. I had to dig deep and give the some of the best of me due to the level of competition I faced there.”
The Padres knew they had a special pitcher when the signed Morejón for an 11 million dollar bonus in international free agency in 2016 and they weren’t wrong. They knew he was a prodigy who was experienced beyond his years. Morejon had made his debut in the Cuban National Series a year before at the age of fifteen with the Mayabeque Hurricanes.
I spoke with Morejón about Baseball and Cuba. This is what he told me: “In Cuba we live, and breath baseball and it took me a little time to adapt to the Serie Nacional because I was so young. But this helped me adapt to the minors quicker, which is a cut above the Cuban League. In the US, the exceed more and get more out you.” Coming to a new country wasn’t easy for the young lefty it took a little time for him to adapt. According to Morejón: “I had to make a lot of adjustments when I came to America. We as Cubans are not used to the training regiments of the US. The hardest thing for me to adapt to was the discipline. Here we are professionals there are rules one must adhere to on and off the field.”
In 2017, he debuted in the minors at Fort Wayne (A) and Tri-City (A-) and impressed the team’s brass mightily compiling a record of 3-4 and ERA of 3.86 at the age of 18. The young lefty made the jump to A+ ball in 2018 and continued to show he was a potential future big leaguer posting an ERA of 3.30 and striking out 70 batters in 62.2 innings. Morejón was named an all-star that season at Lake Elsinore of the California League.
In 2019 he continued to move through the ranks of the San Diego Padres organization pitching Amarillo (AA) and was selected to the future’s game, where he faced another Cuban top prospect Luis
Robert, “It was a great experience to face such a good hitter. I never faced him in Cuba. I tried to maintain my focus, not get behind in and definitely keep the ball low. That day I wasn’t going to give him anything to hit.”
Morejón and Michel Baez were called up within days of each other and that was a good thing for both young pitchers. “I think it’s always good to have a familiar face around, especially in a new environment. His presence helped me get better acquainted with my new situation. Although I was familiar with most of my teammates having played with them in the minors it was good to have someone familiar with me”.
Morejón, Baez and Ronald Bolaños all debuted that season with the friars and will all be counted on this year to contribute. In 2019, Adrián Morejón made his MLB debut at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs. That day the young lefty gave up 3 hits and a run in 2.1 innings pitched. He also whiffed a batter. “I was super nervous in my first start, but at the same time, I felt a good sensation because I was finally a big leaguer. Giving up my first hit in a packed house was an experience I will never forget.”
Although he struggled with a 10.13 ERA, there were many flashes of this young hurlers’ talent that suggested he will be a frontline pitcher in the big. In his eight innings of work, he did strike out nine batters. Morejon took the offseason to work on his craft and build himself up to prevent some of the injuries that hampered him last season. “I was focused on strengthening my body because injuries cut my season short last year. I also took the time to work on my mechanics.”
Last season he looked a lot more comfortable and even won his first major league game. Although he posted a 4.66 ERA he showed the league hi electric repertoire striking out 25 batters in only 19.1 innings.
This season he looked ready to have a breakout, but on April 11th disaster struck. The lefty departed a start against the Texas Rangers with a forearm strain. Upon further testing he was diagnosed with a tear in his UCL and would require Tommy John surgery. Morejón underwent surgery and a full recovery is expected.
Although things looked bleak after the surgery the Padres expect the lefthander back next season and he’s also expected to be a big part of their pitching staff for years to come.