UC-Irvine pitcher Andrew Morales, a Supplemental Round B draft pick by the St. Louis Cardinals, spoke to Redbird Rants this afternoon. Morales is preparing for this weekend’s College World Series but took some time to talk with us.
Daniel Solzman: Thanks for joining Redbird Rants today. How are things treating you out west in California?
Andrew Morales: Doing pretty well.
Daniel Solzman: Can you describe what it felt like when you heard your name called on Thursday night during the second round of the draft?
Andrew Morales: It was unbelievable, actually. Very blessed to have the opportunity. Very thankful that the Cardinals believed in me to pick me in the second round. It was an awesome experience for myself and for my family
Daniel Solzman: When did you find out that the Cardinals were interested in you?
Andrew Morales: Probably about five minutes before I got my name called. I met with an area scout and that was the extent of the Cardinals interest in my eyes. And then, all of a sudden, I get a call and things changed pretty quick. It was just a surreal experience.
Daniel Solzman: What’s the reaction been like since the draft?
Andrew Morales: Well, to be honest, I was more concentrated on the time at getting to the College World Series. Now that we are actually going to the CWS, I would love to have all my attention there. Once that’s done, I’m more than excited to just take on this new chapter and just be a Cardinal. Being in an organization that’s really rich in history and tradition, I’m just excited to be a part of the organization.
Andrew Morales: I feel like it’s a similar situation to that.
Daniel Solzman: Unless I am mistaken, you don’t have a Twitter account, right?
Andrew Morales: I do not have a Twitter account.
Daniel Solzman: With UC-Irvine taking on Oklahoma State last weekend during the Super Regionals, how happy were you to have gotten the draft out of the way on Thursday night rather than on Friday or Saturday?
Andrew Morales: To be honest, the draft wasn’t really in my mind. It was always in the back of my head this season but one of my main priorities was to always get my team to the College World Series and perform at my best. Either way, with the call, Friday, Thursday, Saturday, I was really excited to get the opportunity to play at the next level.
Daniel Solzman: On that subject, you pitched a shut out against Oklahoma State and advanced the team to the College World Series. How did that feel?
Andrew Morales: It was great. It was great to be put in that role and to have that clinching game. Just that killer mentality kind of set in and I just went out there and did what I did best. Now we have the College World Series berth, the second in the history of the program. I’m just really excited to be a part of that.
Daniel Solzman: How honored were you to have been named the 2014 Big West Pitcher of the Year?
Andrew Morales: Extremely. Especially in this conference. The west coast is really underrated from my point of view. We’ve played other teams that are in the west coast and they’re some of the best. There are—in this conference alone—there were 10-15 great pitchers in this conference. To be named the Big West Pitcher of the Year, which is very prestigious, is just an honor.
Daniel Solzman: How have Rio Hondo coach Mike Salazar and UC-Irvine coach Mike Gillespie helped in preparing you for the next level?
Andrew Morales: Mike Gillespie has been an amazing experience here. The amount of baseball that I’ve learned from him is unreal. Coach Salazar, in my two years there, helped get me to the next level, too. Mike Gillespie—I’ve done most of my learning here at UC-Irvine, where I’ve kind of expanded and grown physically and mentally as a ballplayer.
Daniel Solzman: Who was your favorite player growing up?
Andrew Morales: Growing up, it would probably have been Adrian Beltre when he was on the Dodgers—Like back in the day when I was little and played everywhere on the field. But then it kind of became like strictly a pitcher when I was probably about 12 and like entering high school so it was a little different and that kind of changed. Then it basically became every pitcher that I tried to resemble.
Daniel Solzman: What is something that Cardinals fans should know about you?
Andrew Morales: I’m just really ready to go. I’m ready to be a Cardinal. That’s basically it. I’m just really excited to be a part of the organization. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got to get to that level.
Daniel Solzman: Once you do start your career with the Cardinals, is there a coach, veteran or Hall of Famer that you are looking forward to meeting?
Andrew Morales: Just everybody in that organization. The amount of pitching there and pitching development is unreal. To meet some of those guys like Joe Kelly and Michael Wacha, guys that are young and just moved up, that would be really exciting for me. Wainwright, I would love to meet him. I’ve watched him for the past couple of years, especially in the World Series. Just veteran pitchers and even like the younger pitchers on that staff would be just a very cool experience for me.
Daniel Solzman: Thanks again for joining us and best of luck in the College World Series and as your make your way up through the Cardinals organization. Any words for the best fans in baseball?
Andrew Morales: Thank you for having me here.