James Harris scouting report
James Harris, the Oakland Athletics‘ rangy new outfielder who just so happens to have been born and raised in the city itself, is hoping to make good on the opportunity to be a hometown boy done good in another year or two with the A’s. Originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2011 draft, Harris washed out of TB’s organization just a few years later after struggling to adapt on the field to professional baseball. Fortunately for him, the Athletics picked him up quickly and gave him another shot. So far, it’s paid off.
Harris was a monster on the field in 2016, slashing .303/.379/.423/.802 with thirty doubles and seven home runs across 119 games for the California League‘s Stockton Ports. He did so well, in fact, that he was named one of the starting All-Star outfielders in the Cal League’s midseason event in June. His good work also earned him the right to a promotion to Double-A, and the Texas League‘s Midland RockHounds, by the middle of August. There, he finished out the year in just 11 games, and slashed .216/.250/.243/.492 with a double and five RBI.
As you can see, Harris is an dynamic athlete and tough out at the plate. He gets the barrel on the ball, though he’s probably not a plus hitter for average moving forward. And while his strikeout numbers aren’t exceptionally high, he’ll need to keep putting the ball in play to take advantage of his speed and athleticism on the bases. He likely won’t become a plus power hitter, but could eventually hit 10 or so home runs per year while providing good defense and a lot of doubles. Good patience in taking pitches is a particular strong suit for Harris, who can work a round and should improve on that as he gets more experience in the game.
James Harris scouting report — what’s ahead in 2017
As is the case for so many players right at this level (trying to establish themselves in Double-A or higher entering a season), 2017 will prove to be critical for James Harris. The rangy, strong outfielder is going to likely start the summer with Midland, and he’ll have to prove he can hit there just as well as he did in the hitter-friendly California League a year ago. He’s still only 23 years old, and won’t be 24 until well into the second half of this summer, so it holds that he’s relatively on schedule still despite being released by the Rays a few years ago.
Ultimately, Harris has an outside shot at being a fourth outfielder-type of talent at the big league level. And while 2017 is likely not going to be the year he’ll break through with Oakland, a decent to strong summer in Midland (and then in Triple-A, if able) will go a long way to push him onto the radar ahead of 2018. We’ll have a lot more from Harris in an upcoming longform feature about his career, his release from the Rays, and how he overcame it all to bounce back with Oakland; stay tuned.