After a scuffling start to the season that has seen most outfielders either be unavailable due to injury, struggle offensively, or be unable to stick in the grass defensively (or multiple of the above), the Braves are promoting top prospect Michael Harris II to the big league level:
The #Braves today selected the contract of Michael Harris II to the major league roster after optioning OF Travis Demeritte to Triple-A Gwinnett following last night’s game. Harris II will wear No. 23.— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) May 28, 2022
Harris, arguably the Braves’ top prospect after the Matt Olson deal sent Cristian Pache and Shea Langeliers to Oakland, put up a 129 wRC+ in 196 PAs at the Double-A level (.305/.372/.506). He had a 114 wRC+ in 420 PAs at High-A last season.
The Braves will hope that Harris lifts their outfield contingent out of their collective doldrums — while his most optimistic current projections probably have him as a league average-ish bat, the reality is that the Braves’ outfield, as a whole, is dead last in fWAR coming into Saturday’s game, with the third-worst hitting line and the league’s worst outfield defense. With Harris’ promotion, Atlanta is attempting to remedy both of these at once; the Braves clearly feel this is preferable to their other minor league options (Alex Dickerson, who can’t field; Preston Tucker) or Travis Demeritte, who has a 67 wRC+ and -0.5 fWAR after a good start following his call-up (and the fact that he’s outhitting his xwOBA when few are).
Will this promotion improve the Braves’ outfield situation? Stay tuned — but it’d be pretty hard not to, unless Harris crashes and burns on both sides of the ball.