Black MiLB Players You Need To Know About #6: Michael Harris II
Background + Path To Professional Baseball
Michael Harris II is a twenty-year-old outfielder in the Atlanta Braves organization from DeKalb, Georgia. Harris was drafted by the Braves in the third round(98th overall) of the 2019 MLB Draft out of Stockbridge High School and was ecstatic to be selected by the Braves as he grew up a Braves fan. Harris received a $548,000 signing bonus when he signed his professional contract and forewent his commitment to Texas Tech. Harris participated in the Marquis Grissom Baseball Association in south Atlanta for years, founded by former Atlanta Braves outfielder and Atlanta native Marquis Grissom. Harris credits Grissom for helping him become a competent defender in the outfield and staying on point with the mental aspects of the game. Grissom would quiz Harris on potential game decisions and what to do in reaction to them.
Harris was a two-way player in high school, and while many teams preferred him as a pitcher, the Braves were intending to make him a full-time position player when they selected him in the draft. The Braves felt he offered more upside as an everyday player rather than a pitcher, even though Harris was a very good pitcher in his own right. Harris prefers being a position player over pitching and wants to be on the field as much as possible.
Harris’s professional career started in the Gulf Coast League in 2019 at 18, where he put up a .349/.403/.514 slash line in 31 games before getting a late promotion to the Braves Low-A affiliate where he struggled in 22 games. Minor League Baseball was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so Harris trained at the Braves alternate site during 2020, where he was one of the youngest players. The Braves really think highly of Harris and were impressed with what he showed at the Alternate Site in 2020, and assigned him to the High-A affiliate of the organization to begin the 2021 MiLB season. Michael Harris is one of the youngest players in all of High-A, and he is currently hitting .333/.375/.511 in his first 11 games of the season.
Michael Harris II is 6'0'’, 195 pounds, bats from both sides of the plate, and throws left-handed. Evaluators give Harris high grades for his ability to make contact and hit for power. Along with this, he has displayed a good eye at the plate based on his walk rates in the small number of professional games he has played. Harris can drive the ball to all fields from both sides of the plate and shortens his swing in two-strike counts to optimize his ability to make contact. Harris frequently makes line-drive contact and hits a lot of groundballs although there is a chance this may change based on the fact that he has not even reached 100 career games as a professional. Based on his Trackman data, Harris’s average exit velocity is 90 mph, his hard-hit rate is 42%, and his maximum exit velocity is 107 mph. Harris is a competent hitter from both sides of the plate, and so far in his career has not shown any major weaknesses when it comes to his ability to go against right-handed or left-handed pitchers.
From a baserunning standpoint, Harris does not make many attempts even though he has very good athleticism and foot speed. Evaluators are split on his grades for speed, although he is average at worst. As he physically matures and gains more muscle, many individuals predict that he will slow down a bit on the basepaths and in the field.
Harris has split most of his time in the outfield between centerfield and rightfield. Scouts and evaluators think that he will eventually move over to a corner outfield spot full-time since he does not make the best reads and run the best routes up the middle, along with the possibility that he may slow down as he gets older. As a former pitcher that could reach 93 mph on the mound, Harris has a very strong and accurate throwing arm that gets plus grades from scouts.
Michael Harris II is a top prospect in the Atlanta Braves organization playing for his hometown team, and it is a dream come true for everyone involved. The Braves were excited to draft him when he fell to the third round of the 2019 MLB Draft, and so far in his MiLB career, he has performed. An athletic switch-hitting outfielder that can hit for contact and power with a strong throwing arm, Harris has tools that can play at the major league level. With the return of Minor League Baseball for 2021, all eyes are on Harris as he is playing his first full season at the Atlanta Braves High-A affiliate Rome Braves.
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