More Morel magic with HR in 5th straight game: 'He's just electric'

Cubs dynamo continues to make history with blazing start

May 24th, 2023

CHICAGO -- With each passing game, is putting himself into more and more exclusive company in baseball history, with a hot stretch so hot that's hard to find a comparison.

“I mean, has anybody? I don’t know,” said Cubs starter Drew Smyly when asked if he’s seen anyone on as hot a stretch as Morel’s current one. “I don’t really know what else you can say about Morel.”

No kidding — especially considering the 23-year-old etched his name alongside a pair of Hall of Famers and a Cubs legend in Tuesday’s 7-2 win over the Mets.

Morel crushed a 383-foot solo home run in the seventh inning Tuesday, his ninth of the season in just 12 games. Since 1900, only one player has hit more homers than Morel in their first dozen games of a campaign: Mike Schmidt (11) in 1976.

Along with Morel, Luis Gonzalez (2001, D-backs) and Larry Walker (1997, Rockies) hit nine homers through 12 games.

“He's just electric,” Smyly said. “And right now, he's seeing the ball. We're excited to have him in the lineup every day and watch him do his thing.”

A few other notes from Morel’s incredible start:

• Morel is the first Cub since Sammy Sosa to homer in five straight games. Sosa pulled it off from June 3-8, 1998, the season he hit a career-best 66 homers.

“I wasn’t born,” said a laughing Morel, who was born in 1999.

• Morel has tallied at least one hit in all 12 games he’s played this season. That ties the Cubs' franchise record to begin a season, set by Hank Sauer in 1954. 

• Morel has scored at least one run in all 12 of his games this season. That’s the second longest streak in franchise history, behind Sauer's (13) in ‘54.

• Morel is the first player in MLB history -- yes, history -- to have a hit and a run in the first 12 games he's played in a season.

Tuesday’s homer gave the Cubs some insurance in their series opener against the Mets, when they held a 6-2 lead in the seventh. Morel took a first-pitch sweeper for a strike from Stephen Nogosek, who came back with a four-seam fastball up-and-in that Morel hit a Statcast-projected 108.2 mph. The homer had a 6.5-second hang time.

“He's got some serious power,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “It’s pretty obvious, if you've been watching, what he can do. He's a threat. As soon as he steps in the box, he's in scoring position. He hits the ball as hard as anybody. The ball just doesn't come down. He gets it in the air and makes contact, it's loud. 

“He's a big, big energy piece for us, and obviously what he's doing it's pretty amazing. I don’t think I've seen many men do this.”

Morel has only been in the Majors for 15 days, after the Cubs sent him to Triple-A Iowa to start the season to guarantee he would receive everyday playing time. But it also allowed him to work on his approach, and the swing-and-miss that was increasingly in his game the second half of 2022.

“Certainly, you can look at it and say, 'Boy, I wish we had those home runs from Iowa here,'" said Cubs president Jed Hoyer pregame Tuesday. "Or you could say the reason he hit the home runs here [was] because he got on a roll in Iowa, getting confident and playing every day. We didn't want to bring him up to not play every day. So, with both [Matt] Mervis and with Morel, I think you can look at it that way, but I also think letting these guys play every day in Iowa, getting on a roll I think certainly helped them.”

And even with this hot stretch, Morel entered the day with a 37.5 percent strikeout rate, compared to a 4.2 percent walk rate. Granted, when he’s hitting the ball, he’s crushing it, but he knows he can be even better.

“Everybody only sees the homers and is super happy with this,” Morel said. “But I have these days making me better, working at home plate for my team. I concentrate on putting the ball more in play and not strikeouts. Like in [three] days in Houston, I got like 8 strikeouts. What would happen if I put the ball in play? I can be better and I can help my team get a W. But we can learn this.”

Morel has provided a major spark to the Cubs' offense, and for all the historical figures, he’s taking things one day at a time.

“Every day is a new opportunity for me,” he said.