2012 was truly a year to forget for Brent Morel. After being named the Opening Day starter at third base for the Chicago White Sox, Morel was only able to appear in 35 games before being sent to the DL with a sore back, and ultimately spending the rest of the season rehabbing and playing in Triple-A. In his 35 games played with the White Sox in 2012, Morel was painful to watch. With lackluster numbers —.225 OBP/.195 SLG/.420 OPS— it was easy to see that the young third baseman was overmatched at the plate. While some of his struggles can be attributed to his bad back, Morel’s performance on the field was not that of an MLB starting third baseman.
As the White Sox begin their 2013 spring workouts in Glendale, Az., Morel seems to once again be healthy. However, with the addition of Jeff Keppinger in the off-season, it’s highly unlikely that Morel will break camp as the starting third baseman for the South Siders. Whether he begins the season as a bench player for the Sox, or is sent to Triple-A, is yet to be decided. And while many White Sox fans may cringe at the thought of Morel getting another chance to play at the big league level this year, I believe there is still a glimmer of hope for the 25-year-old infielder.
Having only played in a total of 182 Major League games, Morel is still a young pup for the White Sox. His Minor League statistics —.343 OBP/443 SLG/.786 OPS— prove that he is capable of being a productive hitter when healthy. Morel has also shown he can certainly flash the leather at the hot corner. But what intrigues me most about Morel is how he finished the 2011 season with the White Sox.
Playing most of the 2011 season at the Major League level, Morel wasn’t overly impressive as a hitter for the first five months of the season. However, in the final month of the season Morel started to show promise, in a big way. Hitting eight dingers, driving in 19 runs and posting an incredible .553 slugging percentage, Morel was producing Joe Crede type numbers. And many White Sox fans thought they had found their new everyday third baseman. Unfortunately, Morel developed back problems early on in 2012 that wiped out all excitement created by his eye-popping finish in 2011.
Many may have forgotten just how explosive a healthy Morel can be at the plate, but I have not. Although his September numbers from two seasons ago may be just a small sample of production from Morel, if he averaged similar numbers throughout an entire year, Sox fans would be looking at a 40 homerun,100 RBI third baseman. Unless Keppinger sustains an injury, or is moved to second base because of poor play from Gordan Beckham, Morel is unlikely to see any type of consistent at-bats in 2013. However, when a healthy Morel is finally given another opportunity to play everyday for the Sox, I expect him to quickly become a household name in Chicago.