MORRIS MAKES IT A DOZEN VIRGIN ISLANDERS IN BIG LEAGUES
CHARLOTTE AMALIE – The list of Virgin Islanders who have played Major League Baseball is about to grow to twelve.
Akeel Morris, a right-hander from St. Thomas, was promoted from Single A Port St. Lucie to the New York Mets active roster Monday.
Morris, 22, is 0-1 with a 1.69 ERA (six earned runs in 32 innings) with 13 saves in 24 games for St. Lucie of the Florida State League this year. He’s surrendered 11 hits, issued 14 walks and struck out 46.
After last night’s 11-inning win by the Mets, its relief corps has pitched two 11-inning games in the last three days, necessitating Morris’ entry to the bigs.
Morris, who is a Charlotte Amalie High School graduate, is a tenth-round pick from 2010, and will be available for the Mets if they need to go deep into their relief rotation.
He was already on th 40-man roster and relies heavily on his 90 to 94 mph fastball, but has a changeup and a slider as well.
Morris’ father played high school basketball and his mother played in a local softball league – they each encouraged him to play baseball at age five.
“It’s actually growing down there,” Morris told ESPN about baseball in the territory. “I watched baseball games on TV. I would see it on ESPN – and for some reason the Florida Marlins a lot, because they’re the closest.”
Asked who his favorite player at that time, he said: “Growing up I played the middle infield, until I started pitching. So Derek Jeter was my favorite.”
Jeter is now in a committed relationship with Virgin Islands supermodel Hannah Davis, who was also born in St. Thomas.
Morris is expected to go back to the minors when the Mets’ bullpen is more rested. The New York team needed five relievers over 5.1 innings to get through Sunday’s game, a day after the five relievers combined for four innings in Saturday’s 11-inning game.
According to Baseballreference.com, 11 players have been born in the Virgin Islands and reached the majors: Jerry Browne (1986-95), Joe Christopher (1959-66), Horace Clarke (1965-74), Callix Crabbe (2008), Henry Cruz (1975-78), Midre Cummings (1993-2005), Elrod Hendricks(1968-79), Al McBean (1961-70), Jose Morales (1973-84), Calvin Pickering (1998-2005) and Elmo Plaskett (1962-63).
Valmy Thomas (1957-61) who lived for many years in St. Croix and owned a sporting goods store in Christiansted was actually born in Santurce, Puerto Rico October 21, 1925. He died in St. Croix in 2010 and is buried in Kingshill Cemetary at mid-island.