Morales was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Sunday. Morales made two relief appearances during his time with the major-league club, and he picked up his first career save in Friday's win over the Dodgers. Although he tossed three scoreless frames over his two outings, the 22-year-old will head back to the minors, where he's posted a 0.55 ERA and 0.75 WHIP in 16.1 innings over nine appearances this year.
Morales saved Friday's 12-10 victory over the Dodgers, walking three while allowing an unearned run in the tenth inning. With closer Corey Knebel unavailable, manager Joe Griardi turned to Morales after Jeurys Familia blew the save chance in the ninth inning. The 22-year-old nearly did the same despite possessing a three-run advantage, walking the bases loaded but inducing a clutch Mookie Betts double play before finally ending the game with Trea Turner at the dish as the go-ahead run. It was quite the tumultuous outing for a player making his second-ever appearance, though Morales likely won't be appearing in many high-leverage situations moving forward due to the dicey performance and Knebel's availability.
The Phillies recalled Morales from Double-A Reading on Sunday. He'll join the 26-man active roster as a replacement for Zach Eflin, who was placed on the COVID-19-related injured list in a corresponding move. Meanwhile, Cristopher Sanchez is scheduled to start the second game of Sunday's doubleheader with Mets in what amounts to a spot start in place of Eflin, but Morales could be needed to provide length out of the bullpen behind Sanchez. The 22-year-old Morales has served as a multi-inning arm out of the Reading bullpen this season, recording more than three outs in seven of his nine relief appearances while logging a 0.55 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 28:6 K:BB across 16.1 frames.
Morales won't be on the Phillies' Opening Day roster, Matt Gelb of The Athletic reports. The Phillies had enough injury uncertainty this spring that Morales earned a mention as a darkhorse candidate for a spot in the team's expanded April bullpen, but enough of those questions were resolved in a positive way that the 22-year-old won't be needed. Morales has largely failed to impress as a starter throughout his minor-league career, but he has a live arm and could move quickly following his conversion to relief.
The Phillies promoted Morales from Double-A Reading to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Wednesday. Morales is one of several prospects in the Phillies' system who will make the jump to the minors' highest level for the final week of Lehigh Valley's regular season. The 21-year-old righty made 22 starts for Reading in 2021, compiling a 6.94 ERA and a 110:60 K:BB in 83 innings.
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