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St. John’s University pair of juniors ready for next step

By Five Boro Sports

When his junior season began, Tim Morris wasn’t thinking about the MLB amateur draft. He just wanted to put together a string of solid at-bats and stay healthy after off-season shoulder surgery.

He did that and more, batting .415 with 12 home runs, 17 doubles and 62 RBIs. As a result of his bounce-back campaign, the Seattle Mariners took the left-handed first baseman in the 11th round Wednesday afternoon. Teammate Brian Kemp, a speedy junior outfielder, was also chosen by the Houston Astros in the 19th round.

“It was just amazing,” said Morris, who watched the draft with friends and family from his home in Villanova, Pa. “It was a big relief. I’m glad it’s over.”

He received a call from the Mariners in the 10th round and then again in the 11th. Ten minutes later — the longest 10 minutes of his life, he joked — his name was called.

Morris transferred to St. John’s after a quiet freshman season at Clemson, when he received just two starts. After sitting out the mandatory year, he made 25 starts for the Big East champion Red Storm, shining as a part-time player.

Morris said he still wasn’t right. He was too aggressive, swinging wildly at pitcher’s pitches. This year, he had a plan: to be patient and attack his pitches.

“That was a main reason I was successful,” he said.

Said St. John’s Coach Ed Blankmeyer: “Tim has made tremendous improvement from last spring to this spring. … This year, he didn’t waste too many at-bats. He was squaring the ball up, he was hitting good pitching, having good at-bats. He wasn’t giving anything away. His concentration and focus was good.”

A third-team All-Big East honoree out of Chaminade High School and East Rockaway, L.I., Kemp batted .379 with 13 doubles, 68 runs scored and 16 stolen bases. He enjoyed three solid seasons for the Red Storm.

Blankmeyer has high hopes for each of his two juniors.

“Time will tell, they are both prospects deemed by each organization, they just got to go out and play and perform and get better,” the coach said. “They got to prove they are true prospects. Both of them have the ability and opportunity.”

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