Nats' No. 4 prospect connects on first pro homer

April 14th, 2024

Through his first five games of the season, didn’t connect on a hit for extra bases. The Nationals’ No. 4 prospect had three hits in 17 at-bats, but it took one swing in the back end of a doubleheader for Double-A Harrisburg on Saturday to break that drought.

In the third inning with runners in scoring position, Morales sent a chest-high pitch over the left-center-field wall at Peoples Natural Gas Field en route to a 7-3 win over Altoona. It marked his first hit of the day and an emphatic response to his first-inning strikeout.

“I felt it off the bat,” Morales said. “Obviously, I’ve been trying to do what I can, but I know many more are going to come after that first one. It feels good to get that first one out of the way.”

After being drafted in the second round by the Nationals last summer, Morales went homerless in 42 games across four levels. He racked up 20 extra-base hits -- 16 doubles and four triples -- but none of his hits left the yard in his first run of professional baseball.

“I’ve been seeing the ball great right now, keep working on my approach and being selective of my pitches,” said Morales, who said he struggled with swing and miss to start the year.

Morales added an RBI double to his line in the fifth inning, driving home fellow Top 30 prospect Brady House as the clean-up hitter in a loaded Senators’ lineup already consisting of three Top 100 prospects. Morales joined the list Tuesday at No. 100, sitting behind Dylan Crews (No. 7), James Wood (No. 14) and House (No. 45).

“It’s just great offense,” Morales said. “Obviously, having those guys hit before me, it’s going to help me a lot and get a lot of RBIs because I know those guys get on base a lot. The job is to just keep working and being good as a group. I know the type of talent we have and the type of players we have in this organization, so I know we are just going to keep working and moving forward.”

Between the two games, the Miami product finished his afternoon 2-for-5 with four runs, two extra-base hits and a pair of walks. Morales raised his batting average to .227 and his OPS to .779 in his best game of the season.

“Just being selective and not swinging at bad pitches, getting my pitch up in the zone, doing some damage and driving in runs,” Morales said. “That’s what I’m here for, that’s my goal. It’s just to get RBIs and score runs for my team."