A mental game: How Cubs’ prospect Christopher Morel is growing on and off field
Cubs’ prospect Christopher Morel was blunt in his assessment as a hitter.
“I got power, you know,” Morel told Marquee Sports Network’s Lance Brozdowski.
But it’s another aspect of his game that the Cubs’ front office has grown to like that could see him be a part of the Cubs’ future: his athleticism. Cubs’ VP of player development Matt Dorey spoke of that skillset earlier this year.
“One of the more athletic players in our system and couldn’t be more proud of who he is off the field. He’s a guy who really impacts his teammates with how he works and how hard he plays the game,” Dorey said.
That athleticism runs deep in his family. Morel’s father was a professional basketball player in his native Dominican Republic and his uncle played professional baseball for the winter league Aguilas Cibaeñas.
That’s where his athletic skillset comes from.
One facet of his game that he’s learning as he works his way up the minor league ladder is the mental aspect. He started learning that early on in his professional career. After he signed with the Cubs in 2015, he suffered a cut on his right arm that delayed his pro debut until 2017.
“It’s been really hard, like more mentally to stay strong,” Morel said.
Through all that, though, Morel’s passion for the game has never waned.
“He’s fun to watch play every single day,” Smokies manager Mark Johnson said. “He’s probably one of the most passionate people besides Willson Contreras – they’re probably pretty close to each other in that sense. They love to play, love to win. Just a very excitable player with a tremendous amount of tools.”
The Cubs tried him out at various positions in his minor league career, dabbling at shortstop in the outfield and at third base. The hot corner, though, is his favorite.
“I feel comfortable,” Morel said. “I feel like I can play free. I like to throw hard, so I [like to] play third base.”
Adding to that familiarness is having some of his fellow countrymen on the journey with him. His best friend in the organization is Jonathan Sierra, who is at Low-A Myrtle Beach. Sierra signed with the Cubs in 2015, too, and the pair played together at South Bend in 2019, the last full minor league season.
“He’s a really good guy and a really good player,” Morel said.
All those aspects contribute to Morel growing from a mental aspect, which will help both he and the Cubs in the long term.
And he’s learning that from anywhere he can.
Last season, during the shutdown, Morel, like many others, enjoyed watching The Last Dance the documentary on the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in their final season together. It was the first time Morel had seen video of Jordan playing basketball. While he enjoyed watching Jordan in his prime, he took away plenty from the mental side from him.
“Michael Jordan never goes down,” Morel said. “He’s positive. One year, he lost. The next year, he goes to crush that team.”