Shortstop Johnny Morales established a new River City Rascals record when he stepped in between the white lines Friday night for the series opener against the Frontier League’s Gateway Grizzlies.
The game marked his 338th professional contest and he surpassed former centerfielder Curran Redal for the most games played all time for the Rascals, a record that dates back to his professional debut on June 11, 2013.
“I am blessed to be able to play the game this long,” Morales said. “Not many people are able to say that they have had careers in baseball as long as I have, especially guys in the minor leagues and independent ball.”
The five-foot-six shortstop is a career .265 hitter and has tallied 326 hits, third to Redal and Brian Fuess.
Out of his 326 hits, the fifth year talent has amassed 60 doubles, six triples, nine home runs and 144 RBI. He has also scored 207 runs and drawn 130 walks which are both Rascals records.
He was a Frontier League All-Star in his first full season with the Rascals in 2014 maintaining a career high batting average of .302 while notching 93 hits in 82 games played while also driving in a career high 39 runs.
Morales, 26, also prides himself on defense and is currently anchoring the Rascals defense who is first in the Frontier League with a league best 33 errors. Personally, Morales is having his best fielding percentage year and is currently at a .973 through his first 186 chances and has already helped turn 20 double plays.
Since the 26-year-old made his professional debut on June 11, 2013, 68 players have made a plate appearance in a Rascals uniform and none of them have had the longevity that Morales has had with the team.
“Johnny has been a pillar for us at shortstop for five years and I honestly can’t believe it’s been that long now. He’s been a fantastic player in our organization and a great clubhouse guy for us,” Morales’s manager Steve Brook said. “I am proud to have him on this team and I know he is going to finish the year strong and hopefully give us a shot to go back to the playoffs to get a ring. I know that’s what he’s here for and I am extremely proud of him for this accomplishment.”
“I always tell people what I told my sister when she asked me how long I am going to play baseball for,” Morales said. “I’m going to play until they tell me I can’t play anymore. It’s baseball and the childhood dream is to make it to the big leagues, I’m keeping the dream alive as much as possible.”
Some of the more notable accomplishments in his career besides breaking the record on Friday night while notching a pair of hits and a RBI in an 8-2 win, include leading his team to a trio of Frontier League Championships the past three years. Last year, in game four, the shortstop and the Rascals had their backs up against the wall down two games to one in the FLCS and it was Morales who ignited a rally in the opening frame with a one out double and his team would go on to score him as well as four others in the inning to avoid elimination and get the chance to play in game five.
The Rascals community and organization has come to know Morales for the past five years and on the behalf of the entire organization and front office, the Rascals would like congratulate Morales on this accomplishment.
“I have a great support system all the way around; My parents, my sister and my wife who lets me do this even though we have to be apart for awhile, I love you guys,” Morales said. “I would also like to thank everyone here in the Rascals organization. Steve has been a great manager the five years that I have been here, the host families, including mine which is the Bauer’s have been great, and lastly the organization who treats us well and lets us have a good time playing baseball all summer.”