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Morgan highlights slate of Draft signees

U. of Washington catcher was Pac-12 Player of the Year
MLB.com @beckjason

SEATTLE -- Three summers ago, Joey Morgan was a college catcher without a college, his scholarship having been pulled from the University of Oregon when they overrecruited on catchers. This week, Morgan officially became a pro catcher, signing with the Tigers after becoming their third-round pick in last week's MLB Draft.

It's a turn, he said, that makes him appreciate what happened even more.

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SEATTLE -- Three summers ago, Joey Morgan was a college catcher without a college, his scholarship having been pulled from the University of Oregon when they overrecruited on catchers. This week, Morgan officially became a pro catcher, signing with the Tigers after becoming their third-round pick in last week's MLB Draft.

It's a turn, he said, that makes him appreciate what happened even more.

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"It made me not take anything for granted," said Morgan, the Pac-12 Player of the Year this spring at the University of Washington. "It just worked out for the best."

:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::

The signings have come quickly in recent days. Morgan agreed to terms with the Tigers over the weekend and traveled to Lakeland, Fla., to sign his deal. He'll join the Tigers' short-season Class A team in Connecticut later this week. Hard-throwing Notre Dame pitcher Brad Bass, the Tigers' seventh-round pick, also signed over the weekend, according to MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis. Both signed for slot value -- $564,000 for Morgan, $189,100 for Bass.

Towering outfielder and second-round pick Reynaldo Rivera, the national Junior College Player of the Year at Chipola, signed last week and is already on the Connecticut roster. Sixth-round pick Dane Myers, a two-way player out of Rice University, is also close to agreement.

Other picks are expected to stream in over the next few days. The one notable exception is first-rounder Alex Faedo, currently pitching for the University of Florida in the College World Series. He can't sign until the Gators' season ends.

Morgan signed after a standout career at Washington that might have never happened if not for a crazy set of circumstances. The Oregon native said he had committed to the Ducks on a scholarship offer, only to be told two weeks before classes began that the offer had been rescinded.

"They called me and said they recruited too many catchers," Morgan said in a phone interview Monday, "and they thought I was the worst of the catchers."

Morgan scrambled to find a place to play. He quickly found it at Washington, where they had a last-minute opening when a player changed schools.

As he looks back, he's not sure he would've reached this point if not for the change and the motivation that went with it. Morgan became a second-team Baseball America All-American this year and a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award as the nation's top collegiate catcher.

Video: Draft 2017: MLB.com takes a look at the Tigers' picks

Morgan has been a strong presence behind the plate throughout his career, throwing out 13-of-27 would-be basestealers as a junior this spring with just two passed balls and three errors in 356 chances. His rise this year came from his emergence at the plate, leading the Huskies with a .324 batting average, .927 OPS and 45 RBIs. D1baseball.com ranked him as the top college catcher in the country in April.

"I just kept a consistent approach the whole season," said Morgan, who felt he got pull-happy after a stretch of home runs his sophomore season. "After summer ball [sophomore season], I reflected on what my strengths and weaknesses were."

Morgan now joins a system that has drafted and developed college catchers, from former Arkansas Razorback James McCann to ex-TCU star Bryan Holaday to Alabama product Alex Avila.

"I was pumped when I heard the Tigers were interested," he said, "just because I knew their history of developing catchers."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

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