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August 15, 2009 at 6:25 PM

Wakamatsu says Morrow’s return “closer and closer”

Brandon Morrow, who pitched a complete-game shutout for Tacoma last night, is definitely doing the right things to earn a trip back to Seattle.
It was his third consecutive strong outing, and his most impressive yet: A four-hitter over Iowa in which Morrow struck out two, walked just one,and threw 59 of his 96 pitches for strikes. He retired 10 straight batters early in the game.
“What impresses us more than anything was how much he used his changeup,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “I think he threw 25, close to 30, changeups out of the 90-something pitches he threw. When we sent him down, that was probably the biggest thing. Watching him pitch up here, everything just seemed hard. To be able to change speeds just adds another weapon for him.
“It’s similar to (Ryan) Rowland-Smith when we sent him down there. Every outing seems to get better and better. He’s gaining confidence. We talked about bringing him up at some point, and he’s proving he’s pretty close.”
Wakamatsu expects to be discussing Morrow’s status soon with GM Jack Zduriencik and his pitching coaches.
“Obviously, pitching like that proves to us he’s getting closer and closer.”

  • Carlos Silva had another bullpen session today, throwing 35 pitches. Wakamatsu said it went well. Silva will be stretched out to 45 pitches next time, followed by a simulated game. The goal is to get him some game action before the season is over.
  • Mariners’ scouting director Tom McNamara had good things to say about Nick Franklin, their second No. 1 draft pick (27th overall), who reached agreement on a contract that includes a $1.28 million signing bonus. Dustin Ackley, the No. 2 overall pick behind Stephen Strasburg, remains unsigned as Monday’s deadline approaches.
    Franklin is a switch-hitting shortstop out of Lake Brantley High School — the same Altamonte Springs, Fla., high school that produced Jason Varitek, Rickie Weeks and Felipe Lopez. Franklin’s parents are flying into Seattle tonight, and he’ll meet the media Sunday. He took batting practice with the M’s today and fielded some grounders.
    “He’s a confident kid,” McNamara said. “Working under Jack in Milwaukee, that was one of his big things about talent. Besides the tools, try to really bear down on confidence. This kid, he’s confident. He likes to play. A switch-hitter. He can run. He’s a good-looking player.
    “He’s a first-rounder. I want to remind him that — he’s a first-round pick, because we’ve got another one out there, too (Ackley). We’re ecstatic to have him, and glad he’s going to be out there playing soon.
    “For a guy his size, he’s got some power. He hit 11 home runs in high school. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him. He has a lot of work to do. Obviously, this is a long way away — a major league clubhouse. But it’s a good experience for him to come in and see everything. When we pulled the lever on his name, i was pretty happy. This is the guy I wanted at 27. Sometimes, it doesn’t work out that way. When you get a premium position guy at 27, you take it and run with it.
    “Somebody asked me about the pitchers, because there were a lot of pitchers in the draft. We looked at the board at the end, and it was basically, you have a choice of the 18th best pitcher, or a guy you feel is one of the best shortstops in the country.
    “I don’t like putting tags on people. We wouldn’t have taken him in the first round if he didn’t have a little of this guy, a little of that guy. But he’s unique. He’s got a lot of spring and life to his body. He’s not afraid to make the tough play. He makes big plays in big spots. That’s what I saw in the three games I saw him. That’s a trait that tough to find in a shortstop.”
    McNamara said that Franklin will go first to Arizona before joining a minor-league club. Unlike a lot of high draft picks that are selected as shortstops but switch to other positions, the Mariners envision him remaining at the the position.
    “Shortstops are pretty hard to find,” he said. “There are guys that play shortstop, but they’re not shortstops up here. This guy, I’m a failed shortstop, and I’ve signed some shortstops. I have all the confidence in the world this guy will really excel defensively, and I think he’s going to hit, too. He’s different, he’s a unique kid. We’re happy he’s in the organization.”

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