Preston Morrison is an old soul.
And for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans starting pitcher, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
On the field for the Cubs organization in 2016, Morrison has been more than dominant. Though he was just called up to Myrtle Beach on July 25, the 23-year-old is already a favorite, both for the fans and his teammates in the locker-room.
Morrison’s pro-ball journey began last summer when the Cubs selected him in the eighth-round of the MLB Draft out of TCU, where the right-hander had an illustrious four-year ride.
With the Horned Frogs, Morrison made 74 appearances (61 starts), compiling a 37-12 record with a miniscule 1.85 ERA. All in all, he’ll likely go down as one of the most respected and talented pitchers in TCU’s baseball history.
And although he’s already skyrocketing through the Cubs organization with analysts projecting a continued path to potential big-league success, Morrison hasn’t flinched.
He’s still the same laid back, content, quiet, relaxed pitcher who entered TCU in 2012.
It’s the only way he knows how to be.
“Basically, I haven’t really been much of a ‘go, go, go’ guy,” Morrison admitted. “I’ve been even-keeled.
“I guess some people would [say] I was born in the wrong time. I should’ve been born in the 70s or 80s because I like that type of music, and I’m not really big into all of the technology and all of that stuff. I’m more like, sitting down, chilling with my dogs and my girlfriend, maybe watching a movie, and, I don’t know, a little retro, I guess.”
A little retro, indeed.
When is the last time you’ve seen a 23-year-old not glued to the screen of their phone, anxiously awaiting to snapchat or tweet about every part of their day?
For Morrison, “taking it easy” isn’t just a cliche. It’s more than an attempted effort to stay calm in the pressures of minor-league baseball.
In his world, when he’s not in the gym or working out with his coaching staff, life is about the simple things.
“I’m pretty laid back in the sense that I’m not going to do too much outside of the field, go out every night and all of that. I enjoy reading. I enjoy listening to books, and a lot of guys aren’t going to be in to that,” he said with a laugh. “A lot of guys just play cards or watch TV, but I really just like taking it easy.”
Since he officially began playing for the Chicago organization last July, Morrison’s numbers have been eye-popping.
In his first 28 outings, he’s worked 127.2 innings while allowing just 110 hits and 27 walks. He’s averaging roughly a strikeout an inning, significantly assisting his 1.90 ERA and 11-5 record.
Amazingly, in his last eight starts, he allowed just three earned runs in 52.2 innings. That works out to be a 0.52 ERA since June 16th.
Many would attribute the unheard-of success to his natural abilities and wide skill-set. And while that’s one half of the equation, it’s very difficult to omit the aspect of his distinctive mindset.
“I’m a big believer in meditation or mindfulness, whatever you want to call it,” Morrison said. “And that really does play a big part in my game. Before the game, I’ve already scoped out the other hitters and every situation that I could be in. So, the first time something happens in the game, I’ve already done it in my mind.
“It’s being calm whenever stuff is hitting the fan. And I think it’s really a great thing you can do as a baseball player because there’s so much external stuff going on, especially in the minor-leagues… being more relaxed and just taking it as ‘I can only do my best, and that’s the most important thing,’”.
Morrison and his family are familiar with the Carolinas, giving the call to the Pelicans more meaning than just being promoted another level. He was raised about three hours west in Waxhaw, North Carolina, where the family spent plenty of summer hours playing travel ball in the local Myrtle Beach area.
The family owns a lake house not too far away; and sticking with Morrison’s theme of family and comfort, it’s a favorite spot when his schedule has some down time.
Said Morrison: “We go and just fish for 12 hours, hit the hay and that sounds amazing. That’s actually what I’m doing on our off days, heading up to the farm to get some fishing in.”
For the rest of their playoff push and potential postseason schedule, the Pelicans are better because they have Morrison in their clubhouse.
The players love him (infielder David Bote crashed Morrison’s interview to get one point across: “this guy is a stud!”) and his coaches gladly work with his willingness to get better each and every day.
Star minor-league players hear a lot of noise during their journeys to the majors — some crumble under the pressure.
But the family-first, cool, calm and collected Myrtle Beach fan-favorite is keeping his head clear.
He’ll continue to kick back, read plenty of good books along the way, and lean on those he cares about most.
“I just really enjoy playing the game and putting in the work, he said. “Whatever people say, I’ve honestly read some stuff from college, blogs and stuff, and I’ve just come to the realization that they say they know what’s going on with a program or organization, but they don’t really know.
“The only people that I’m concerned about are my teammates, my coaches and the organization. Because at the end of the day, those are the people who matter in my career.”