A's No. 2 prospect Morales headed to Futures Game

July 9th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Martín Gallegos' A's Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

When the A’s signed Luis Morales during last year’s international signing period, the original plan was to slowly introduce him to the professional ranks. Just over a year later, he will be representing the club during All-Star weekend.

Morales, ranked Oakland’s No. 2 prospect and top overall pitching prospect by MLB Pipeline, was invited to participate in the All-Star Futures Game on Saturday at Globe Life Field in Arlington. The 21-year-old right-hander has bounced back from a shoulder injury that sidelined him at the start of the season, posting a 4.32 ERA with 42 strikeouts over 41 2/3 innings in 12 starts for High-A Lansing.

“It’s awesome that Luis Morales gets to represent the Oakland Athletics in the Futures Game,” said A’s assistant general manager and director of player personnel Billy Owens. “He oozes projection and a high ceiling. The future is bright for Luis, and this is the perfect stage to showcase his talent.”

After dominating the Dominican Summer League to begin his A’s career last season, Morales was pushed across three more levels before finishing the year at High-A. Between his four Minor League stops in 2023, the Cuban-born pitcher combined for a 2.86 ERA with 53 strikeouts in 44 innings.

The A’s have dialed back Morales’ workload upon his return from injury. He has yet to exceed 80 pitches in a start this season while operating as part of a 10-man rotation at Lansing, in which starters piggyback each other every week. With each start, the A’s continue to see the electric repertoire that makes Morales such an intriguing prospect.

“Every outing, Morales flirts with triple-digit heaters,” Owens said. “His fastball contains significant ride, carry and life. He tunnels his advanced changeup with it, and his slider displays tilt, shape and is developing swing-and-miss traits. He’s fun to watch.”

As part of the American League squad, Morales will be managed by Hall of Famer Adrian Beltré, whose star-studded coaching staff includes former All-Star closer Francisco Cordero as pitching coach.

“The Futures Game, in some aspects, is just as memorable as the MLB All-Star Game,” Owens said. “He has the opportunity to be mentored by MLB royalty and enjoy the day competing with his talented peers.”

Playing in the Futures Game has often meant an accelerated path to the big leagues for A’s prospects. In the previous two contests, participants such as Lawrence Butler, Tyler Soderstrom and Shea Langeliers were promoted to the Majors later that same year.

Morales has yet to pitch above High-A, so his ascent may not be quite as quick. At the very least, it will bring him close to A’s manager Mark Kotsay, who will be on hand for All-Star week as part of the coaching staff for Bruce Bochy on the American League All-Star team.

“He’s been performing,” Kotsay said of Morales. “He’s earned it. I could see him graduating after the All-Star break and maybe being challenged a little more.”