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Southern notes: Morris right at home
Huntsville native having career year in front of family, friends
07/03/2012 10:00 AM ET
Hunter Morris is hitting .294 with a league-high 26 doubles.
Hunter Morris is hitting .294 with a league-high 26 doubles. (Huntsville Stars)
Hunter Morris is a true hometown hero, a rarity in the Minor Leagues. Born and raised in Huntsville, the first baseman now plays for the team he once followed.

"It's great," the 23-year-old Milwaukee prospect said. "Everybody is right here. The support system is special. I always have my own cheering section."

Among that group at Joe W. Davis Stadium is Morris' wife, Macie, and 20-month-old son, Trip. That gave the team an idea for a special bobblehead giveaway on Father's Day. The keepsake has Morris holding a bat in one arm and his son in the other, with Trip's movable head capable of nodding to his father.

"He's probably the only 1-year-old in the world with his own bobblehead," Morris said.

But as much as being able to play at home and be with his family is special for the former Auburn University slugger, he obviously doesn't want his career to stall there. The Brewers have an opening at first base after the departure of Prince Fielder, and Morris eventually wants to fill it.

Based on Morris' production in June, the fourth-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft may be on his way. He hit seven homers and drove in 27 runs in 27 games while batting .307 during the month, which also included an appearance in the Southern League All-Star Game.

Ranked by MLB.com as the Brewers' No. 9 prospect, the left-handed hitter led the league with 26 doubles and 147 extra-base hits through Sunday and was second with 57 RBIs. He was fifth in slugging at .497 and had a .350 on-base percentage to go with a .294 batting average.

Playing at home has obviously agreed with the former Grissom High School standout, who devotes a good bit of time making appearances around town as a representative of the Stars.

"I stay busy," Morris said. "It takes time away from my day, but I enjoy it. It's great to be able to give something back to the community."

Once, it was Morris who looked up to Stars players and dreamed about having his own baseball career.

"I remember watching Prince Fielder and Yovani Gallardo," Morris said. "The first player that really stood out for me when I was little was Miguel Tejada as he was coming up to Oakland."

Morris was taken in the second round of the 2007 Draft by Boston but elected to go to Auburn. Despite being Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and setting an Auburn record with 23 homers as a junior, he fell to the fourth round in 2010.

Morris certainly has no regrets about his Auburn experience, though. That is where he met Macie, a Tigers softball player and sister of one of his teammates. She had gone to another Huntsville high school.

Morris, who received a bonus of $218,700, made it to the Stars briefly last year but spent most of his first full season at Brevard County in the Class A Advanced Florida State League. It was an up-and-down year.

Morris hit 19 homers with the Manatees but walked just 18 times in 126 games while posting an OBP of .299 and committing 19 errors at first base.

This season, Morris had walked 21 times in 78 games and committed only two errors.

Morris had just three homers before his big June, but his average had been fairly consistent all season. He batted .303 in April and .280 in May.

Some players might feel pressure playing in their hometown. Morris hasn't.

"It's been exciting at all levels," he said.

In brief

Walker struggling: June wasn't kind to Jackson's Taijuan Walker, No. 13 among MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects. The 19-year-old right-hander was 0-3 with a 9.15 ERA in five starts during the month. Walker, who was 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA in April, is now 4-4 with a 4.43 ERA in 14 starts. He was the 43rd overall pick in the 2010 Draft and is ranked as Seattle's No. 2 prospect behind left-hander Danny Hultzen, promoted after the first half from Jackson to Triple-A Tacoma.

Marte on DL: Mobile outfielder Alfredo Marte landed on the disabled list shortly after being named the Most Valuable Player at the Southern League All-Star Game. He was hurt in a game against Montgomery on June 23. Marte batted .462 in June, lifting his season average to .294. The Mobile pitching staff also suffered a loss when left-hander Tyler Skaggs was promoted to Triple-A.

Lee breaks out: Montgomery shortstop Hak-Ju Lee batted .330 and stole 14 bases in a red-hot June. The big month lifted his average to .265, and he was tied for the league lead in stolen bases with 27 through Sunday. The native of South Korea is ranked as Tampa Bay's No. 1 prospect and is No. 37 on MLB.com's Top 100 list. He split last season between Class A Advanced Charlotte and Montgomery.

Corcino rebounds: Pensacola right-hander Daniel Corcino walked six and lasted just four innings in his first start after throwing eight no-hit innings in a gem against Mobile on June 16. But he bounced back Friday, allowing one run on five hits over eight innings while striking out seven and walking two against Jacksonville. Corcino is 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA.

Guy Curtright is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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