Michael Harris is showing why the preseason hype was warranted

Braves farm system taking a hit

In an MLB Draft that included a pro-ready defensive catcher in Shea Langeliers and a career .300-hitting shortstop in Braden Shewmake (and those were just a few of the players taken in front of him), it would’ve been understandable for Michael Harris to sort of slip your mind. At the time, Harris was such a raw prep player out of a Georgia high school, and hell, many didn’t even know whether he was a pitcher or a hitter.

Here’s an evaluation from Talking Chop‘s Matt Powers just after the 2019 draft in June of 2019…

“Harris is an athletic outfielder with plenty of raw power potential, but also a prospect with plenty of swing and miss. On the mound he has a fastball up to 93 MPH from the left side and a promising curve as part of his three pitch mix. Most teams seem to prefer him on the mound, so that fall back if he doesn’t hit enough is always an option.”

Raw potential on the position-player side to go with a low-90s MPH fastball on the pitching side is obviously enough of a profile to go in the 3rd round of the draft, especially when Harris’ athleticism was included; though, there wasn’t one attribute that just stuck out for him.

But just as he did when minor league ball was cancelled in 2020, as a newly-signed prospect two years ago, Harris built his stock up by impressing evaluators in various workouts.

By the conclusion of the 2019 campaign, the end of a pro debut season in which Harris hit .277 with 14 XBH and tallied eight stolen bases in just 53 games spread across rookie ball and Single-A, FanGraphs had Harris ranked as high as 17th on the Braves updated ’19 prospect report. Sure, nearly a .300 AVG and some evident gap-power for a teenager reaching a level that averages 21-22 year-olds is quite the accomplishment. Although, it’s not as if what Harris did that season was unheard of. In fact, after hitting well in the Gulf Coast League (.349 AVG), Harris struggled mightily with Single-A Rome (.183 AVG), including just as many strikeouts at the latter level despite 26 fewer plate appearances.

But again, it wasn’t so much his numbers that impressed the Braves, or evaluators interested in Harris. Check out the report FanGraphs gave on Harris in 2019…

“Harris would have been an elite college player with top-5 round abilty both as a hitter and pitcher, but most scouts preferred him on the mound. He was used unusually during his senior spring, and some scouts think within 12 months in a pro setting he could be 90-93 with everything average to above. But it sounds like Harris blew the Braves away in a private workout and he might instead be deployed, full time, as an outfielder in pro ball.”

Blew the Braves away, huh? We’ve heard that recently haven’t we? 

If Harris has taught us anything it’s that simply dissecting one’s minor league numbers is far from the only way to determine a player’s skill level or upside. 

I mean, how could you explain the incredible surge of Harris’ stock over the last couple of seasons?

Entering the 2021 season, those 50-ish games from two years ago was still all that was on Harris’ resume as a pro player. Although despite that, his ranking within the Braves prospect rankings has improved tremendously. As of right now, Harris is a top-five prospect (no. 4) in the organization, and there are even some that are calling for his MLB debut this year. What?!

As crazy as that may sound, it’s actually quite understandable. 

And Harris has done nothing to quiet those somewhat hyperbolic requests either. Through his first 16 games of the 2021 season, all with High-A Rome, Harris is sporting a 161 wRC+, which is the same mark he posted in that 31-game stint in rookie ball two years ago. 

Through Saturday, Harris is in the midst of a six-game hitting streak as he leads Rome’s offense to an impressive 10-7 record thus far. During that six-game streak, the R-Braves’ no. 3 hitter is slashing a ridiculous .522/.500/.783 (1.283 OPS) with four XBH and five RBI, and it’s practically a no-brainer that Harris will be part of the next round of minor league promotions coming soon, putting him in Double-A Mississippi and in line to potentially make an MLB debut as soon as 2022. 


And it’s not as if Harris is putting up these numbers because of something unsustainable. Take a look at his splits and you’ll see a player that’s obviously not being challenged at the plate. 


Michael Harris (2021 splits)

Home – .421 AVG, 3 2B, 4 RBI

Away – .333 AVG, 4 XBH, 8 RBI

RHP as LHB – .358 AVG, 5 XBH

LHP as LHB – .364 AVG, 2 2B

2 outs, RISP – .375 AVG, 2B, 2 RBI


You’d probably like Harris to walk a little more, given he’s currently sporting a 4.4% walk-rate thus far and hasn’t drew a walk in eight games (all the way back to May 13), but his 23.5 K% is right in line with where you’d like it to be and his approach should continue to improve with more seasoning. Hell, why try and walk when you know you can swing the bat and get on base?

But as we’ve already learned with Harris, it’s not all about the numbers anyways. The Braves love for this kid has always been about more than batting average and extra-base hits. 


Very rarely do players successfully play up to the preseason hype, but Michael Harris has in 2021. It will be very interesting to see just how far this kid goes this season. 

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