Bryan Morris looking more impressive this spring

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Travis Sawchik (lots of Travis Sawchik here recently) reports that Bryan Morris is looking more impressive in camp:

Scouts were buzzing about Morris, too, double checking their radar guns versus the Rays and again on Sunday against the Phillies. Morris' fastball topped out at 97 mph on both occasions, and with movement. His cutter touched 91 mph and perplexed batters. ...

Not only has Morris' velocity ticked up, but he is developing a comfort level with a new pitch: the two-seam fastball.

"Believe it or not, he's throwing it in the mid-90s," Huntington said, "and he has terrific sink to it."

It's hard to know what to make of stories like these -- you never know which details from spring training are going to turn out to matter once regular-season games start. But if Morris could take a step forward, that would make the Pirates' end-of-spring bullpen decisions a lot more fun to make.

In case you forgot, Morris was bad last year. Actually, "awful" isn't too strong a word. He struck out 5.1 batters per nine while walking 3.9. Even if you get ground balls, those are ratios that just won't fly for a relief pitcher in the majors in 2013. He stayed afloat thanks to a .251 BABIP that he likely won't be able to sustain next year.

Morris' underlying numbers will likely improve. 2013 was his first full season, and his minor-league numbers dictate that he can be better than his 2013 peripherals suggested. But the Pirates' list of out-of-options relievers put them in a tough spot. If Morris' improved performance this spring can show the Bucs he belongs, that would add some clarity as they set their roster.

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