Angels reliever Mike Morin, living up to his advance notice, is making a good first impression as part of the bullpen.
The 23-year-old right-hander entered Friday's play not having given up a run in 8 2/3 innings of relief work since his big league debut April 30.
Morin arrived with heightened expectations after he was called up from triple-A Salt Lake because he was the Angels' minor-league pitcher of the year in 2013.
"Mike is throwing good strikes, he's got the ball down, he's changing speeds well," Manager Mike Scioscia said.
"In spring training he struggled with a couple things . . . but he's worked them out and he's throwing the ball very well."
The 6-foot-4 Morin throws a fastball, slider and changeup, and it is his changeup that has received a lot of attention.
Angels catcher Hank Conger said it's "probably one of the better changeups I've ever seen in the league as far as speed difference [from his fastball] and the way he throws it."
After throwing a fastball above 90 mph, Morin will deliver a changeup in the low 70s that keeps batters off balance.
Morin said a coach at his high school in Overland Park, Kan., initially taught him the changeup during his senior year but it "felt super uncomfortable at first" so he didn't throw it that season.
But he began using the pitch the summer before he entered the University of North Carolina and "I threw it a lot over the course of three years there," Morin said.
After his junior year at North Carolina, he was drafted by the Angels in 2012 in the 13th round.
Morin's poise on the mound also has drawn praise.
"His makeup is his strength," Scioscia said.
Conger said "one of the biggest things I've noticed, and it's actually really cool, is that he's going after hitters."
"Some guys come up [to the majors] and get timid, especially for their first go-around in the league, but he's doing a great job of attacking hitters and trusting his stuff," Conger said.
But Morin acknowledged he didn't start getting comfortable until he had faced his first few big league batters.
When he made his debut, pitching the ninth inning in the Angels' 7-1 win over the Cleveland Indians at Angel Stadium, Morin said, "I knew it was going to be overwhelming almost, but it truly was overwhelming. I didn't know where the ball was going."
Now, "I know what to expect in terms of not being anxious," he said. "I feel confident and hopefully I can help the team win."
Third baseman David Freese, sidelined with a broken middle finger on his right hand, was scheduled to join triple-A Salt Lake in Reno for rehabilitation games, Scioscia said.
"The last two days he's really picked it up to where he's very, very close" to returning, Scioscia said. "He'll finish it off down there with a couple of workouts, play some third base and then be ready to join us sometime next week."
Freese suffered the injury when he was hit by a pitch May 2.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times