MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Growing up with a father for a Florida Gators fan, Brett Morales never had doubts about where he wanted to go for college.
Morales, however, wasn’t so sure he was ready to play ball at that level until last season.
“That’s when I started to get a bit of recognition,” Morales said. “I knew then that maybe I could someday get there.”
He’ll be in Gainesville soon enough: the King High pitcher signed a letter of intent Wednesday to play baseball for the Gators, his favorite childhood team.
A second-team all-county selection, Morales recorded a 0.99 ERA in 49.1 innings, striking out 58 while walking 14. He filled in at second base after a teammate was suspended in the middle of the season and hit .293 with seven doubles, a triple, home run and 15 RBIs.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Morales later wowed scouts at June’s Perfect Game National Showcase with his changeup, which complements his 90-92 mph fastball.
“Morales is probably one of the best arms we’ve seen so far,” Perfect Game’s scouting coordinator Ben Collman told the Times.
On Wednesday, King hosted a small ceremony in the school’s ceremony for the soon-to-be Gator.
Lions head baseball coach Jim Macaluso said he knew Morales would be a major-college prospect from the time he was a freshman.
“He had all the tools,” Macaluso said. “But I really think it all clicked for him his junior year.”
Once it became clear Morales would have his choice of schools, there was little question about where he would go. His father had once taken him to see the Gators play Vanderbilt when Tim Tebow was the quarterback and the memories of that day never left him.
Morales picked Florida over a list of schools including Florida State, Miami and Central Florida.
"He was brainwashed," said William Morales, his father. "But we really enjoyed it. He gets up there as often as he can."