Colby Morris ’19 signs minor league contract with the New York Mets

By Sam Lipin

“I’m not going to give up until I get signed.” 

Former Middlebury pitcher Colby Morris 19 was not satisfied with ending his baseball career with an 8-3 defeat to Tufts in the NESCAC Championship. Instead, he was resolute on taking his career to the next level, with the MLB as his ultimate goal.

Colby Morris ’19, a star pitcher at Middlebury College, signed with the New York Mets organization in January. (Credit: Marin Independent Journal)

The pitcher got one step closer to realizing that goal in January, signing a minor league contract with the New York Mets organization. Less than two years after his graduation, Morris had catapulted himself from the NESCAC to the minor leagues, becoming the first Panther to sign with an MLB organization since Michael Joseph ’13 (Baltimore Orioles, minor league). 

It’s an achievement that follows a distinguished collegiate career punctuated by countless accolades. The 2018 NESCAC Pitcher of the Year has the most career wins (18), innings pitched (256) and career starts (39) in Middlebury history and ranks second all-time in strikeouts (174).

The achievement also follows a period of less glamorous work in the lower divisions, including time with the Trois-Rivieres Aigles (Canadian-American Association) and the Milwaukee Milkmen (American Association). During his time in the minor leagues, Morris struggled to find consistent minutes or stability, but his aspirations didn’t falter. 

Morris also spent time with Driveline, a player development organization in Washington that uses advanced metrics to maximize their players’ potential. 

“When I went there, I had plateaued with velocity for a while at 89–92 (mph), but I guess the movement has changed,” Morris told The Campus. “You never want to be average with anything. With technologies that exist now like Rapsodo and Trackman, you can measure the spin rate and how the ball is moving. So, despite plateauing in velocity, I made my movement stand out as much as I could.”

His tangible improvement, driven by minor league experience and technical work with Driveline, positioned Morris as a candidate for Major League clubs. And MLB organizations bit, with the Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers both giving Morris a shot. But his potential truly glowed when he trialed with the New York Mets, who eventually offered Morris a minor league deal. 

The California native’s next step will be reporting to spring training in Port St. Lucie, Florida, following the conclusion of the MLB and AAA-league spring training. There, Morris will be further assessed and assigned to either their Double-A, High-A, or Low-A affiliate — three subdivisions of the minor league. 

When asked about Morris’ accomplishment, Mike Leonard, the head baseball coach at Middlebury, didn’t seem surprised. Leonard explained that Morris set the standard for both a Middlebury student-athlete and a Middlebury baseball player, undergirded by an incessant work ethic. At Middlebury, Morris helped spin an 11–23 record during his rookie year into two NESCAC Championship appearances in 2017 and 2019. 

“Each year, he understood that it was about bringing others along, and he had to help build that culture and support and mentor others so we had a full team who could help get to the championship,” Leonard said. “We weren’t at that level yet, but he wanted to take us there.” 

Leonard added that Morris’ achievement has inspired his current players to elevate their games, inspiring them to dream big about their baseball futures.

Only two Panthers have ever played MLB baseball at its highest level, the most recent being Harry Hulihan in 1922. Middlebury watches excitedly as Morris embarks on his journey to become the third.