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Morton flashing impressive velocity

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros right-hander Charlie Morton continues to impress in Grapefruit League action. Morton made his second start Wednesday, with both of his outings coming against the Mets, and threw three scoreless innings, walking one batter and striking out four without allowing a hit in Houston's 12-2 win.

Morton, who missed almost all of last season, was again flashing impressive velocity, sitting at 94-97 mph with his fastball. Morton had a spike in velocity early last year with the Phillies, before a torn hamstring in April ended his season. He averaged 91-93 with his four-seam fastball the last few years, but threw 95 mph earlier in his career.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros right-hander Charlie Morton continues to impress in Grapefruit League action. Morton made his second start Wednesday, with both of his outings coming against the Mets, and threw three scoreless innings, walking one batter and striking out four without allowing a hit in Houston's 12-2 win.

Morton, who missed almost all of last season, was again flashing impressive velocity, sitting at 94-97 mph with his fastball. Morton had a spike in velocity early last year with the Phillies, before a torn hamstring in April ended his season. He averaged 91-93 with his four-seam fastball the last few years, but threw 95 mph earlier in his career.

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When asked if the velocity was sustainable, Morton wasn't sure.

"Check back with me in June and see if I'm doing it," he said. "I've had Spring Trainings where I was throwing hard and come June, July, it went back down. When I came back from [Tommy John surgery] I was throwing hard and by the end of the year I was 91-93. We'll see. I think if I'm spotting my curveball OK and moving my sinker, it will be all right. I don't need to pitch [94-97]. I'd love to have that in my back pocket. We'll see."

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Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Morton's delivery is in sync and he's pitching with minimal effort, giving him encouragement he's found something in his delivery. Hinch said the movement on his pitches "has been electrifying."

"His strength of his pitches is a little more advanced at this stage of Spring Training than I expected," Hinch said. "He's come out with really plus stuff across the board and has been able to utilize it. It's been good to see him get in, be in the strike zone and utilize the movement on his pitches, but do it basically in the mid-90s, which is a little early from what we expected."

Video: NYM@HOU: Hinch talks about Morton's solid performance

For the first time since 2008 with the Braves, Morton on Wednesday threw to catcher Brian McCann, who was drafted with Morton in 2002 and caught his big league debut in '08.

"His stuff plays at such a high level and he knows what he's trying to accomplish," McCann said. "The ball just comes out free and easy and it's hard and it's got depth. He pounds the bottom of the zone."

Morton wasn't shy about his adoration for McCann.

"Love that guy," he said.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros, Charlie Morton