Michael Harris II was off to a torrid start for the Mississippi Braves this season. After another two-hit night on Friday — his eighth of May — he’ll now take his talents alongside Ronald Acuña, Jr. in the Atlanta Braves outfield. The Braves selected Harris on Saturday morning.
Let’s take a quick look at the exciting, albeit brief, career of one of the top prospects in all MLB.
Michal Harris II: What we know
Harris is a hometown kid that went to high school in Stockbridge, Georgia. In high school, he was a superb two-way talent, as a strong left-handed pitcher and hitter. The Braves took Harris in the third round of the 2019 MLB draft and Harris’ pitching days were immediately over.
Thus far, it was the right choice (although for both Harris and the Braves, it was a no brainer). Harris made quick work of the GCL in his 2019 pro debut, slashing .349/.403/.514 in just 31 games before heading to Rome. Still trailing names like Cristian Pache and Drew Waters on the prospect list, we here at Battery Power were particularly excited for 2020 after an impressive start to his career.
Of course, 2020 happened. It wasn’t all bad for Harris, who at just 19, took his talents to the alternate site at Gwinnett and fared very well against the most advanced pitching he’s ever seen. He also took valuable lessons away from some of the better fielding prospects in the system, developing his skills in centerfield.
Harris played all of his 2021 season at Rome; however, unlike his last time there in 2019, the R-Braves were now High-A with the realignment. The smooth-swinging lefty fared well, hitting .294 with a .798 OPS.
He entered 2022 as one of the Braves top prospects. Though there were not many, people did have questions they wanted to see answered, mainly around his power and his ability to generate a few more walks (but in fairness, his strikeout rate was solid). One question that didn’t need to be answered was where he would play: Harris took home a MiLB Gold Glove in 2021.
The 2022 Mississippi Braves run
Harris was set to face advanced pitching after showing steady improvement in each of his first two (ish) seasons. He began the season hitting successfully in his first 10 games and reached base in every game from April 8 to May 22. His walk and strikeout rate remained roughly the same as 2021 (8.7% walk rate; 19.9% strikeout rate) but the power clearly took a step forward, which is especially impressive in some of the cavernous ball parks of Double-A where home runs go to die. The gap power was sensational, as he roped 16 doubles in just 174 at bats — he had 26 last year in 374 at bats.
What we expect from Michael Harris
Being that Travis Demeritte came up and briefly set the world on fire, there’s no reason to lower expectations on Harris. An Acuña/Harris/anyone-you-want-to-throw-in outfield is one of the sexier things in MLB.
Harris is someone who has constantly evolved and showed improvements, seemingly never shying away from stronger, elder competition. He was once a switch-hitter in high school and upon going to a full-time left-handed hitter in his final year, he still handled southpaws very well (he hit .296 against lefties in 2021, and .293 against righties). As previously mentioned, he showed up to the alternate site as a teenager with less than 55 games above high school on his resume and turned heads aplenty. He made the jump to Double-A, where prospects either prosper or perish, and climbed to the No. 59 prospect on MLB Pipeline, and every night became must-see (MiLB) TV.
Does that mean you should expect a 21-year-old rookie who’s never seen a Triple-A pitch to hit in his first 10 MLB games and reach base for the next month-and-a-half straight? Of course not, but the takeaway with Harris is that it is more than talent. He has the confidence in his abilities and with his talent in the outfield, he can provide value as he gets his feet wet at the plate.
Whether or not Harris is in the big leagues for the rest of the year is a question that can’t be answered right now. However, we do know we are on the cusp of something special.