A familiar face returned to the Grand Strand this month as former Coastal Carolina pitcher Mike Morrison pitched against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in a four-game series for his new team, the Winston-Salem Dash.
Morrison was drafted in the 27th round of last year’s MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Chicago White Sox, making the 2017 season his first full professional season in Minor League Baseball.
To say the least, the Chanticleer standout was excited to be back in town.
“After a year, it’s still here,” Morrison said laughing. “You still pinch yourself and that’s what we always used to talk about. It’s still a real thing, a great place, a great community, I just love it here. I could see myself living here for the rest of my life, honestly.”
Though he didn’t pitch for the Dash in the series against the Pelicans, Morrison was able to take full advantage of his time in and around Myrtle Beach and Conway.
Among the highlights? Being able to return to the new field at Coastal Carolina and soak up the sunshine around the campus that provided him with the opportunity to make the leap to pro ball.
“I was telling [my teammates] that I need to take them on a field trip,” he said. “It’s such a beautiful place. Even after you play in all of these minor-league parks, you forget how grateful we were to have nice facilities and how the program was ran by coach [Gary] Gilmore. He runs a professional program at a college level, which is something that’s really gotten me ready for this next level.”
One of the highlights of his trip, Morrison said, was being able to spend time with Gilmore.
Coastal’s skipper made it to the park to visit as a show of his support, a gesture that didn’t go underappreciated from Morrison.
In fact, the right-hander admitted he might have even been a bit nervous.
“He came to the game the other night and I was asking him when the last time he actually sat at a ballgame and just watched the game without coaching,” he said with a smile. “I was nervous. I was playing catch on Thursday night and he was standing there watching and I was like, ‘Oh gosh, he’s there watching me warm up right there in the dugout’.
“But it’s exciting to see him out of coaching and just being a fan. I look at him as a father figure and for him to come out here all four nights and support me, that’s just awesome. I’m so grateful to have him in my life.”
Working out of the bullpen in the White Sox organization, Morrison received his first promotion on June 22 after posting a 0.53 ERA in single-A Kannapolis through 23 games.
He struck out 42 batters over 33.2 innings there, holding the opposition to an astoundingly-low .084 average.
The transition has been a smooth one, just another talking point for Morrison to mention how vital his former coach was and still is to his success.
“You play every day here and coach Gilmore treats every day like it’s a game,” he mentioned. “I know that’s a cliche, but the way he brings intensity every day makes you have to be locked in every single day. So, it’s made the transition for me very easy.”
Still keeping in touch with former Chanticleers in Minor League Baseball such as Anthony Marks and Michael Paez, Morrison still proudly maintains his CCU pride for everyone to see along his journey, one that he hopes takes him to fields under the bright lights of the big leagues.
For now, he’s using the momentum from Coastal’s 2016 championship run to propel him to improvements during the grind of Minor League life.