No reMorse as Nationals brothers continue to defy the odds

Picture this, you are eight years old, you and your best friend are in the backyard of your parents house throwing the baseball, pretending you are on the mound at Yankee Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd. You two are switching off between pitcher and catcher, just talking about how one day you two are going to make it big. Collecting cards of your favorite players and telling everybody how one day you are going to be just like them.

Now imagine not only living this dream, but living the dream alongside of not just your best friend, but your brother.

Phil and Colin Morse, brothers separated by two years are currently living that dream.

The Morse boys grew up in McLean, Virginia, attending McLean High School, class of 2012 and 2014. While in high school, the two were overshadowed by teammate, UVA standout and the No. 74 overall pick in the 2015 draft, Josh Sborz. But that did not slow the two down, still dominating in the high school scene, on the mound and at the plate.

Despite being behind Sborz in the rotation, Phil went off to Shenandoah University after graduation and was an immediate impact for the Hornets. He appeared in 11 games that first year, starting nine with a 3-3 record. He remained a starter in his sophomore year, starting nine games again, with a 3-5 record. It was in his junior year that the Shenandoah coaching staff opted to move the elder Morse to the bullpen, proving to be an excellent move as in his first season strictly out of the bullpen, he went 1-0 in 12 appearances with a save and an outstanding 0.50 ERA. In 18 innings pitched that year, he allowed just one run.

In his final season as a Hornet, Morse was essentially unhittable, going 5-0 in 22 appearances with eight saves and a 0.88 ERA, in 30.2 innings pitched. After being named to the DIII VA All-State team, Morse was selected in the Sixteenth Round by his hometown Washington Nationals.

Phil, on being drafted by Washington, “It was a dream come true. Every kid has those dreams and aspirations to play professional baseball…and for the hometown team and my favorite team to select me in the draft, was amazing.” After being signed, the older Morse brother was sent off to the Nationals Gulf Coast League team, where he dominated in his first appearance receiving an immediate promotion to the (Class A) Auburn Doubledays, where he finished out the 2016 season.

Despite not having great numbers in his first full professional season, Washington saw what they wanted to see for Phil in Auburn and promoted him to (Full Season Class A) the Hagerstown Suns. Phil spent the entire 2017 season in Hagerstown, where he appeared in 19 games, saving five of six opportunities, while striking out 31 batters in under 21 innings.

While Phil was beginning his professional career and climbing the ranks, younger brother Colin was dominating the ODAC and Division III baseball.

Like his older brother, Colin burst onto the scene, making an immediate impact, starting six games for the Hornets in his freshman season, going 5-0 with a 2.30 ERA. It was in that first season that Shenandoah realized they had found something good in the young pitcher. Colin continued to dominate DIII baseball over the course of the next couple years, finding himself as the team ace after his sophomore season.

The younger Morse finished his college career as a remarkable 27-5 with a 2.69 ERA, proving to be one of the most respected and feared starting pitchers in the entirety of his division. He finished his Shenandoah University career No. 1 all-time in strikeouts and second all-time in wins. He earned numerous pitcher of the week honors, after a number of strong performances, including a couple against ranked opponents. He was named to the All-State team for three consecutive seasons, as well as conference pitcher of the year after his junior season.

A former McLean and Shenandoah University baseball spector described the brothers as, “Exciting players, with a clear strong work ethic.” The spector stated that he “absolutely knew” the two were going to go pro at some point.

On June 6, 2018, in the Twenty-Sixth round, by the Washington Nationals, Colin Morse became the second player in Shenandoah University in the last 30 years to be drafted into the MLB, behind older brother Phil. Division III is the lowest tier for collegiate sports, where the players are less likely to receive the recognition that Division I athletes normally do. So for both  of the Morse brothers to be selected is an accomplishment of the highest regards.

Phil was just one of twenty-one DIII players drafted in 2016, whereas Colin became one of just twelve to be taken from a Division III program in 2018. The two are the first brothers in MLB history to be drafted out of a Division III school, let alone by the same organization. Which described by the brothers as motivation for success for not just them, but Division III across the board.

The Nationals are a program known to have brothers in their organization, with examples of Bryce and Bryan Harper, Spencer and Carter Kieboom, now Phil and Colin Morse. These two played high school, collegiately and now play professionally for the same organization, a feat like no other.

On his brother being drafted by Washington, “When it finally happened, instead of being excited which I was, it was more of a weight lifted off our backs. He’s my best friend. Even when I was away the last two years of college for him, I was still coaching him from a far and he was still giving me pointers from his standpoint,” Phil said. “But now being in the same organization. It brought us even closer….We are gonna work hard and better each other as best as we can. Especially in the offseason.” Phil continued to reiterate what a dream come true it was for him to get drafted by Washington and then for them to choose his brother to play alongside him and how thankful he is for the opportunity.

Like Phil was initially, after signing, Colin was sent to the Florida Gulf Coast League, where he currently is on the roster for the FGCL Nats. After three appearances in Florida, Colin has allowed just one hit in 3.1 innings pitched while striking out five. With continued success, he could find himself in Hagerstown with his older brother sooner rather than later.

As the two use their long arms and strong powered fastball accompanied by good command, they could end up one day accomplishing a feat only so many siblings have and that is to reach the pinnacle of sports height, the major leagues. “Obviously one day we both have that dream of pitching in the major leagues. But, we first want to establish ourselves as pitchers,” A humble Phil said. “There is a lot of improvement in both of our games that we need to make… it’s our job now so we both need to take advantage of our coordinators and coaching staff to get help, ask questions. The main goal is to just get better. This isn’t Division III baseball anymore.”

You could not be more right Phil, this is no longer DIII baseball, but with the work ethic, strong arms, humble attitudes and camaraderie these two brothers have, the stars are the limit. With Colin taking a role as a starter and Phil serving as a reliever, we could see the two shutting down opponents in succession. Keep an eye out for the Morse brothers in Washington.       

Mikey Barnes

Staff Writer with CBBSN.

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