Park City’s Morin is now Royal-ty
Last June, Parker Morin and his father, Lee, watched or listened to all 50 rounds of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft. For three days, the Park City High School product waited to hear his name called by one of the 30 major-league organizations.
But his name never came up.
"To see how disappointed he was, after so many people told him he was going to go, that only fueled him," said Lee Morin. "He decided, ‘I’m not going to let any of this distract me from my season. If it happens, it happens.’"
After moving from the College of Southern Idaho to the University of Utah last year, the former Park City star did what he does best: work hard, work hard and then work harder after that.
In the end, Morin’s relentless attitude paid off in a very big way.
On Tuesday, the former Park City star and Utah catcher was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 14th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft.
Although Tuesday was one of the best days of Morin’s still-young baseball career, the day was still wrought with drama. Knowing he wouldn’t be drafted in the first six rounds, Parker and his father decided it would be a prime time to move his stuff out of his Salt Lake City apartment. When the seventh round commenced Tuesday, the Morins were on their way back to Park City to watch the remainder with the family.
On the way up Parley’s Canyon, the Philadelphia Phillies called Morin’s cell phone and offered him a chance to play in their organization. Right after that, the Royals, who had been scouting Morin fairly heavily since the fall, called him up.
Kansas City had a better offer. The Royals told him they’d be taking him in the 13th round.
"I suddenly thought, ‘OK, I’m in,’" he said. "My mom was still keeping me updated on the rounds, and when we finally got back to the house, it was getting close to the 11th round and I hadn’t heard anything for a while. I was wondering if it was going to happen or not. The 12th round comes, and we say, ‘Let’s see what happens.’ The 13th round follows and Kansas City was fifth pick. They didn’t call."
The Royals took Hunter Haynes, a left-handed high school pitcher from Missouri.
Parker Morin’s heart fell to the floor. He called Utah head baseball coach Bill Kinneberg and told him he was most likely going to return to the Utes for his senior season.
"As soon as I got off the phone, I sat down on my couch next to my parents," he said. "Then, on the computer, I heard my name come up."
Suddenly, Morin was in a place not many young athletes get to be, between announcing he was probably returning to school and officially completing his dream of being selected by a major-league organization.
"We kind of didn’t know what to do," he said. "Come to find out, before I had a chance to call my coach back, the Royals’ scout called and said, ‘Sorry we’re a round late, but we did it. I know it’s a round late.’ I told them I’d call them back because I have to check with my family and check that it’s OK.
"I had to call coach back and tell him. He was pretty excited to have me come back; I feel bad for the way it happened."
Morin, who will turn 21 in a few weeks, took the offer from Kansas City and after the drama sorted itself out, the family went into full jubilation. As luck would have it, Parker’s younger brothers, Colin and Blake, walked through the front door just as the family was celebrating the news.
Later that evening, he went to the Lids sporting-goods store at the Tanger Outlets in Kimball Junction and purchased his first Kansas City Royals cap, a royal-blue hat with the cream-colored "KC" logo in the center.
To Matt Strader, an assistant on the Park City High School baseball team who coached Morin when he came into the program as a freshman, the process was a long time coming.
"He was always a ‘yes sir’ guy, a competitive guy who was always very respectful of the coaches and players," Strader said. "As one of his coaches in high school, (Tuesday) was a very proud moment for me. He’s one of those kids that you always want to be around."
Both Parker and his father credited his success to the coaches he’s had, in Texas as a pre-teen, to the Little League coaches in Park City, to former PCHS head coaches Buster Schwab and Howard Hoyt.
The elder Morin said he gives "all the credit in the world" to the two former PCHS coaches for trusting in Parker’s abilities behind the plate. Growing up in Texas, Parker Morin didn’t get a chance behind the plate. He was tried in right field, then first base, third base and pitcher. As a sophomore at Park City, Morin began getting starter looks as a catcher and the rest is history.
After dominating 3A baseball for the rest of his high-school career, Morin went on to play at the College of Southern Idaho Junior College before transferring to Utah last year.
This year he was an honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection in his first season with the Utes. He led Utah with a .314 batting average and 35 RBIs and was tied for the team lead with 69 hits. He also led the Pac-12 with 33 runners caught stealing.
Coming from a small ski resort town, Parker Morin has proved that anything is possible — but only if you put the necessary work in.
"If you work hard and do things right, you’ve got a shot," he said. "That’s kind of all that matters."
Park City head coach Lou Green, who was drafted twice, once by the Atlanta Braves in 2005 and then by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2006, said the precedent set by Parker Morin will help the reputation of the program.
"I hope the kids look at what Parker’s career has turned into and go after it," he said. "I hope it shows our kids that their dream of playing professional baseball is not too far-fetched."
The Morin family didn’t have much time to celebrate. On Thursday afternoon, Parker caught a glimpse of his younger brother’s club baseball team at Park City High School before heading to Surprise, Ariz., to report to Kansas City’s spring-training facility on Friday. There he’ll participate in a small mini-camp for five days before heading to Idaho Falls, Idaho, on June 18 to participate in a rookie-ball league.
Since Parker Morin has been out of the house playing baseball for the last three years, his parents, Lee and Missy, said goodbye to their son one more time as he embarks on his next journey into the unknown world of professional baseball.
"He’s showed us things that we just never thought were possible for him," Lee Morin said. "Each time he’s come up to that next step or that next door, he’s pushed right through it."
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