Photo: Ben Ennis
Spring training is a great time for under-the-radar players to prove their worth to a team. Whether it’s a seasoned veteran or blue-chip prospect, every player is looking for the opportunity to make the opening day roster.
One such prospect who has made quite the splash in 2021 so far is 20-year-old Michael Harris. Harris was a 3rd round pick in 2019. A native of Georgia, he played at Stockbridge High School, which is about 45 minutes from Truist Park. So far this spring, Harris is batting .400 with an on-base percentage of .455 and a slugging percentage of .800.
Yes, he has only played in 9 games and has just 10 at-bats, but his hot start has made several Braves fans and others excited about his potential. Recently, Harris was featured in an article by David O’Brien that was published by The Athletic. Former MLB All-Star and a longtime mentor Marquis Grissom stated in the article Harris had something special about him, something he felt around players such as Chipper Jones and Barry Bonds (O’Brien, 2021). Current Braves superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. said in the same article he felt Michael could make the Braves’ roster very soon (O’Brien, 2021).
With all the hype surrounding Harris this spring, one may wonder when exactly we will see him in Atlanta. To be honest, it will probably be a little while before we see him up here. He has only played in 53 minor league games, none of which were with the double-A Mississippi Braves or triple-A Gwinnett Stripers. It is extremely rare for a player to jump into the majors without playing much or at all in the minor leagues; in fact, only 23 players in the history of baseball have ever done it. It is even rarer if that player did not attend college, as Harris was drafted straight out of high school. He’s going to need a bit more seasoning before he gets to the major league level.
If Harris can develop and blow right through the minors, this will undoubtedly bring up an interesting question: what will the Braves do with a guy like Drew Waters? A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article saying that we might see Drew Waters be called up this year for the Braves, which I still believe we will. If Harris continues his hot hitting, however, and flashes that Chipper Jones or Barry Bonds-like potential (without steroids of course) as Marquis Grissom predicted, where will Waters be in this picture? In the future, the Braves have an outfield that could include Acuña Jr., Cristian Pache, and Michael Harris (condolences to anyone who will have to pitch to this outfield). Waters looks to possibly be the odd man out, so the Braves could include him in a deal to acquire a big-name star to fill a need at another position.
Again, this is all speculation, but from the reports and praise of others, Michael Harris could shape up to be a potential superstar for the Braves soon. To paraphrase a quote directed to a young Anakin Skywalker from Chancellor Palpatine, we will all watch his career with great interest.