Mets prospect Akeel Morris enjoyed surprise Toronto experience despite result

PORT ST. LUICE, Fla. -- Right-hander Akeel Morris' career ERA stands at 67.50. It ranks as the second-highest in New York Mets history, trailing only the 108.00 ERA put up by Garrett Olson in one-third of an inning in 2012, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Still, the 23-year-old Morris would not trade his surprise major league debut last June 17 in Toronto.

Summoned all the way from Class A St. Lucie because he was on the 40-man roster and the Mets needed a safety net with their bullpen overworked, manager Terry Collins decided to throw Morris a bone before the prospect returned to the minors. So Collins inserted Morris in relief against the high-octane Blue Jays' lineup. And let's just say things did not go well.

Entering with the Mets trailing 3-0 in the eighth at Rogers Centre, Morris consecutively walked Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista to begin his appearance. The Mets then failed to turn a seemingly routine double play on Edwin Encarnacion's grounder. Still, Morris did not help himself from that point forward. He eventually surrendered a three-run home run to Danny Valencia to cap the five-run frame and the scoring in Toronto's 8-0 win.

"I learned from the experience -- learned to slow it down and stay within yourself, don't try to do too much," Morris said Saturday at Mets camp. "The game kind of sped up on me. I kind of have to learn to sit back and just relax and trust my stuff."

Asked about his most memorable moment, Morris said: "When I let go of the changeup to Valencia and he hit it out. I knew I left it up, and he capitalized on it."

Morris nonetheless became the 12th player born in the U.S. Virgin Islands to appear in the majors. The last was infielder Callix Crabbe, who appeared in 21 games with the San Diego Padres in 2008.

Morris has posted gaudy ERAs in each of his past three seasons in the minors. He had a 1.00 ERA with Brooklyn in 2013, then a 0.63 ERA in 2014 with Savannah. Before the promotion to the majors, he had a 1.69 ERA and 13 saves in 14 chances with St. Lucie.

After facing the Blue Jays, Morris headed to Double-A Binghamton. He had a 2.45 ERA in 23 relief appearances the remainder of the season.

"I started out a little shaky at Binghamton," Morris said. "I finished real strong. I'm happy about the strides I made in Binghamton."

As for what he needs to polish before getting another shot in the majors to chip away at his unsightly ERA, Morris said: "I've been working on keeping the ball down. And my slider has been coming along."