Parker Morin catching on quickly at Utah | ParkRecord.com

Parker Morin catching on quickly at Utah

Christopher Kamrani, The Park Record

Life is good for Parker Morin.

After all, his relentless attitude and tireless work ethic has him right where he’s always dreamed of being. A junior on the University of Utah baseball team and a former Park City High School star, Morin is relishing his first season with the Utes.

And for good reason.

The 6-foot, 195-pound catcher is off to an impressive start eight games into the season. He leads the Utes with 11 hits and has an early edge in RBIs, leading the team with seven runs driven in. But Morin, who is in his first year at Utah after transferring from the College of Southern Idaho, is following in the footsteps of one of the most prolific athletes to ever put on a Ute uniform.

Former Utah star first baseman C.J. Cron, who hit .434 with 15 home runs and 59 RBIs last season, was drafted 17th overall in the first round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

"It’s pretty hard to replace C.J.," Morin said. "He’s such a good player and did a lot of things for Utah. It’s hard to live up to that, but if we just do what we know how to do, we’ll be successful."

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Morin, in his first year playing at the Division 1 level, has stepped into two spots vacated by Cron. During the first eight games of the season, Morin has batted in the all-important No. 3 and 4 holes both of which Cron was known for dominating for Utah head coach Bill Kinneberg.

"We’re not asking anybody to step into C.J.’s shoes," said Kinneberg, who is in his ninth season leading the Utes. "At least in the first eight games, Parker has led our offense. We project him to be that kind of guy all year long. We hope to be a balanced offense, and Parker’s part of that equation."

Morin, who has also stepped into the starting catcher role for Utah, said he is just trying to take things one day at a time in his important dual role.

"I’m pretty excited to be where I’m at right now," he said. "I grew up dreaming about playing at this level, against these kinds of teams. It’s exciting to realize I’m actually here. It is tougher, but I feel like I’ve worked enough to make (the transition) a little easier.

"I just try to go out and do what I know how to do and not overdo anything."

A four-year starter at Park City, Morin was a three-time All State selection and was elected team MVP twice. He carried a .525 average during the 2008 season and helped lead the Miners to a Region 10 title in 2009.

During his time at the College of Southern Idaho, he was a first-team all-region selection after finishing fourth in the Scenic West Athletic Conference (SWAC) with a .372 batting average as a sophomore. Morin was also tied for second in the conference with 71 total hits and was fourth with 102 total bases.

But now, he knows what kind of responsibility he holds for Utah, which enters its inaugural season in the prestigious Pac-12 Conference. Morin said he must be able to produce in either the No. 3 or 4 slot in the lineup and manage a talented pitching staff at the same time.

"All the pitchers have been really welcoming," he said. "I have had a pretty good relationship with all of them. I feel like this role fits me perfectly here. I’m pretty comfortable in it.

"I want to see as many pitches as I can at the plate every at-bat. Being No. 3 or 4, I want to be able to drive in runs to help the team out. I want to be able to work the best that I can and make sure that happens."

Kinneberg said Morin earned his roles on the team through his hard work and tenacious attitude toward the game.

"Parker is a very driven kid," he said. "His work ethic is unmatched by anyone on the team. His teammates see it, the coaching staff sees it, and he’s very respected because of that. He’s a business guy. He’s got some tunnel vision, and if you watch him work, he’s intense in everything that he does. He’s got a purpose and a goal every day and that’s what separates him."

Kinneberg said there’s a reason why Utah went after Morin, and he hopes the Park City native can help carry the load as the season wears on.

"He’s going to be a really, really important part of the puzzle," he said. "A major contributor."

The Utes don’t make their 2012 home debut until March 21 against Sacramento State at Spring Mobile Ballpark. In the meantime, Morin said he has a goal to watch as many PCHS baseball games as possible this year.

His two younger brothers, Colin, a senior, and Blake, a sophomore, will be suiting up for the Miners this season, and the elder Morin said he keeps in close contact with them.

"They mean a lot to me," he said. "I try to be their role model. I try to teach them you can’t get frustrated, you’ve got to work as hard as you can, because it might be your last opportunity to play."