Franklin Miguel Morales
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 1", Weight 170-210 lb.
- High School U.E. Carlos Ramón Aponte
- Debut August 18, 2007
- Final Game July 31, 2016
- Born January 24, 1986 in San Juan de los Morros, Guarico Venezuela
Franklin Morales was a highly-regarded prospect when he debuted in the majors at age 21 in 2007. His fastball has hit 97 mph on the radar gun and he has a good curveball as well. However, he struggled to establish himself and was never a top-line pitcher during a ten-year major league career.
Signed by scout Francisco Cartaya for the Colorado Rockies at age 16, Morales debuted professionally with the 2003 DSL Rockies, going 9-3 with a 2.18 ERA. In a pitcher-dominated league, he was not in the top 20 in ERA but he was only one off of the lead in wins. In 2004, Morales was 6-4 with a 7.62 ERA for the Casper Rockies. He led the Pioneer League in shutouts (1), hits allowed (92), runs allowed (61), earned runs allowed (55) and starts (15, tied for the lead). Despite his horrible ERA and so many negative statistics, Baseball America ranked him as the #19 prospect in the league, right behind J.P. Howell.
The southpaw was in full-season ball at age 19, going 8-4 with a save and a 3.08 ERA for the Asheville Tourists. The vastly improved hurler fanned 108 in 96 1/3 innings while allowing a .214 average. Had he qualified, he would have been 6th in the South Atlantic League in ERA, right behind Yovani Gallardo on the leaderboard. His 7 balks led the league. Baseball America listed him as Colorado's #3 prospect.
In 2006, Morales had a fine 10-9, 3.68 record for the Modesto Nuts in the high-scoring California League. Opponents hit .223 and he struck out 179 in 154 IP. One negative was his 89 walks, second in the league to teammate Samuel Deduno. Morales led the Cal League in strikeouts, balks and ERA. Baseball America rated him as the third-best prospect in the circuit, behind Reid Brignac and Carlos Gonzalez. He tied for fifth in the affiliated minors in walks and had the most balks but also was 4th in strikeouts behind only Yovani Gallardo, Francisco Cruceta and Matt Maloney. He had the highest strikeout total in a game in the affiliated minors when he whiffed 16 in one contest. Baseball America said he was the second-best Rockies prospect and had the best curveball in their farm system.
Morales had a good year in 2007. He was 3-4 with a 3.48 ERA for the Tulsa Drillers and 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. The Venezuelan appeared in the 2007 Futures Game and fared well there also. He relieved Deolis Guerra in the 5th with two outs and fanned Ian Stewart. In the 6th, he struck out Matt Tolbert, walked Brian Bocock and K'd Jay Bruce before being relieved by Pedro Beato. Morales led the game with those three strikeouts.
Called up to Colorado, he had a fine MLB debut on August 18th against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Morales allowed one run in 5 1/3 IP, walking none and striking out four while allowing five hits. The first batter he faced in the majors, Rafael Furcal, bunted into an out with Morales getting the assist. Matt Kemp's homer was the sole blemish on the game. He was less successful his next game, walking 5 Pittsburgh Pirates batters and allowing 7 hits and 4 runs in a loss. Morales was 3-2 with a 3.43 ERA (140 ERA+) for the Rockies in a fine debut. As a result, manager Clint Hurdle selected him to start over more experienced teammates in the postseason. He gave up 3 runs in 3 innings to the Philadelphia Philles in the NLDS, then 1 run in 4 innings to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLCS. The Rockies won both games, but he relinquished his starting spot in the World Series, being used twice in relief as the Rox were swept by the Boston Red Sox, giving up 7 runs in only 3 innings.
Morales struggled to start 2008, going 1-2 with a 6.39 ERA, walking 17 and striking out just 9 in 25 1/3 IP. He was demoted to the Colorado Springs SkySox. In his first game back with the SkySox, he combined on the first home no-hitter in team history, walking 6 in 5 hitless frames; Chris George, Matt Daley and Steven Register completed the no-hitter. When he came back to the majors in 2009, after starting the season in AAA, it was as a reliever. Only 2 of his 40 appearances were starts and he picked up 7 saves during times when closer Huston Street was unavailable. Overall, he was 3-2, 4.50 in the majors, striking out 41 batters in 40 innings. The Rockies returned to the postseason and he was used 4 times in the NLDS against the Phillies. He did not give up a run or a hit in 2 2/3 innings, but did walk 3 batters.
Just like it seemed like Morales would become the Rockies' future closer, he struggled badly in 2010. He was 0-4, 6.28 in 35 games, and while he did save 3 games, he also gave up 24 walks in 28 2/3 innings, earning a return trip to Colorado Springs where he pitched better. He started 2011 pitching much better in the big leagues; he had given up 10 hits and 8 walks in 14 innings, while striking out 11, when the Boston Red Sox acquired him on May 20th, having just designated veteran Hideki Okajima for assignment. He pitched 36 times for the Sox, with a record of 1-1 and a 3.62 ERA in only 32 1/3 innings. In 2012, he did pretty well as a swingman for Boston, with a record of 3-4, 3.77 in 37 games, including 9 starts. He pitched 76 1/3 innings and struck out 76 batters. However, when it seemed he was once again in line to be a contributor, he struggled with his health in 2013, pitching for three minor league teams on rehabilitation assignments, and logging only 20 big league appearances, including one start. He was 2-2, but with a 4.62 ERA and a poor 21/15 K/W ratio in 25 1/3 innings. He was on the Red Sox's postseason roster that year, but only got to pitch three times, with poor results: in the ALDS, he allowed a run on a hit and walk in a third of an inning in his only outing against the Tampa Bay Rays, then in the ALCS he pitched a scoreless inning in a loss to the Detroit Tigers in Game 4, then in Game 6 replaced Clay Buchholz with two on and no one out in the 6th, with the Sox clinging to a 1-0 lead. He walked Prince Fielder on four pitches, then when he finally threw a strike to Victor Martinez, the Tigers' DH lined it into left-center as two runs scored. Brandon Workman came in to pick up the pieces, and Morales was not used in the postseason again, although he did win a World Series ring thanks to the Red Sox's win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the Fall Classic.
Having fallen near the bottom of the Red Sox's bullpen depth chart, Morales was traded back to the Rockies on December 18th, with Boston receiving IF Jonathan Herrera in return. With the Rockies in 2014, he made 22 starts in 38 games and pitched 142 1/3 innings. He went 6-9, 5.37. Surprisingly the 6 wins were the most he had yet earned in one season, and the innings were also a career high, by a huge margin, as he never even reached 80 innings in any of his other seasons. He became a free agent after the season and on February 19, 2015 signed a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals and was invited to spring training. He had a good season with Kansas City, pitching 67 times in relief and going 4-2, 3.18. He pitched 62 1/3 innings as one of the lower-leverage relievers in Kansas City's bullpen. He was part of the Royals' World Series-winning team, making a couple of appearances in the ALCS and one against the New York Mets in the Fall Classic. That last appearance did not go well, as he allowed 4 runs in just a third of an inning to end up with an unsightly ERA of 108.00.
He became a free agent again after the 2015 season and had to wait until early March the following season to find a team, hooking on with the Milwaukee Brewers. He was released at the end of spring training when he failed to make the team and latched on to the Toronto Blue Jays. He made a couple of appearances in early April and three more in July, but was injured for most of that year. Still, he was doing all right until what turned out to be the final appearance of his career, against the Baltimore Orioles on July 31st: he gave up 3 runs in a third of an inning, was charged with the loss, and ended his stint with an ERA of 9.00. He was released a week later. He then pitched very well in the Venezuelan League the following winter, with an ERA of 1.31 in 19 games, and with the Acereros de Monclova in the Mexican League in 2017, where he was 6-0, 1.62 after 8 games, including 6 starts. His final professional pitching appearance came on August 4th.
- Won two World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2013 (he did not play in the World Series) and the Kansas City Royals in 2015