DENVER -- It was hard to find the bright side in Franklin Morales' Triple-A loss to Fresno on Saturday night. In his second start since being demoted from the Rockies rotation, Morales pitched four-plus innings and gave up 10 earned runs on eight hits and seven walks.
"It's more of the same," said manager Clint Hurdle, having heard two direct reports on Morales' outing from within the Rockies organization. "Lack of fastball command. He really didn't have a whole lot to bring to the table with his secondary pitches, his change-up or his curve ball. He was behind in counts. He retired the first hitter three out of five innings. That's one positive I can give you. After that, first-pitch strikes weren't in a good spot. Obviously, the number of pitches and the breakdown, it was almost 50-50 balls and strikes. There's work to do."
Morales had pitched five innings of no-hit ball in his previous start for the Sky Sox, but even in that outing, he'd walked six and allowed an earned run en route to the victory.
The 22-year-old left-hander posted a 1-2 record with a 6.39 ERA in his first five starts for the Rockies this season, walking 17 while striking out nine in 25 1/3 innings. He has struggled to reclaim the authority that he pitched with as a late season callup in 2007, when he joined the rotation, helped the Rockies make the postseason, and pitched in the National League Division Series, the National League Championship Series and the World Series.
"All we're trying to do is revisit with him what he was born to do and the God-given abilities he was presented with," Hurdle said. "Get back to that and then we'll work off that. No. 1, it's getting him in a good place with his delivery where the ball's coming out of his glove on time and the mechanics are in line so he can revisit that velocity that we've seen in the past. That's when everything good started happening, that's when he had the success that he had in the Minor Leagues, when we saw the electric outing that he had in the  Futures Game.
"We saw some glimpses of it last season, and slowly, for whatever reason, some things have been changing in the delivery, the mechanics of it. We just got to get him back to maybe where he was two years ago, as far as the delivery and pitching the way he was born to pitch. And then start maybe tightening some things up again. For whatever reason, the to-do list has gotten extremely long."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.