Marlins slugger Monte Harrison showing promise in AFL

MONTERREY, MEXICO - MAY 06: Detail of the official game ball prior the MLB game between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey on May 6, 2018 in Monterrey, Mexico. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images)
MONTERREY, MEXICO - MAY 06: Detail of the official game ball prior the MLB game between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey on May 6, 2018 in Monterrey, Mexico. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images) /
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After a season in Double-A that was less than consistent at the plate, Miami Marlins No. 2 prospect Monte Harrison is hitting the ball better in the Arizona Fall League.

Miami Marlins prospect Monte Harrison is turning heads in the Arizona Fall League. After spending the 2018 minor league season in Jacksonville, the team’s Double-A affiliate, there was still plenty the youngster needed to improve on. While the power in his bat is undeniable, reducing strikeouts and becoming a more consistent hitter is part of the outfielder’s “to do” list this offseason.

So far in the Arizona Fall League, an improved swing and more attention at the plate have proven Harrison could make huge strides in the upcoming 2019 season. While he may not make the team’s 25-man Opening Day roster, continuing to refine his skills could mean a trip to the parent club before the season is over.

"“Harrison has provided some answers playing for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League. He has been putting the ball in play with more consistency, and the results have been impressive,” Joe Frisaro of MLB.com writes.More from Marlins NewsMiami Marlins news: Another target goneWhy didn’t the Miami Marlins sign JDM?Miami Marlins rejected Boston‘s trade offerMiami Marlins are pursuing Michael ConfortoMiami Marlins need to spend to win“The 23-year-old is batting .308 with a .403 on-base percentage, two doubles, one triple, and 16 RBIs in 17 games. In 65 at-bats, he has struck out 16 times and drawn 10 walks.”"

The outfield has become a crowded unit for this organization with the addition of Victor Victor Mesa and his brother Victor Mesa, Jr. Both prospects were signed last month to international deals, giving Miami much-needed depth for the future. Mesa, Jr. hasn’t played an inning in the minors and he is already considered the organization’s top prospect, bumping Harrison off the perch.

Harrison was drafted in the second round of the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014 and dealt last offseason to the Marlins along with Isan Diaz, Lewis Brinson, and Jordan Yamamoto for Christian Yelich. The deal helped the Brewers reach the NLCS, but the four players the franchise got in return, could mean future playoff appearances for the South Florida ball club.

Now that he is seeing the ball better, making more contact and striking out less, a move to the Majors at some point in 2019 is realistic.

"“Harrison is expected to be added to the Marlins’ 40-man roster this offseason, and he will be in Spring Training camp with the Major League club,” Frisaro added. “…He projects to start off at Triple-A New Orleans. If Harrison performs there, a big league call-up is realistic around midseason.”"

It would also mean the players already on the roster expected to be part of the Opening Day festivities had better play more consistent baseball as well. The Marlins appear to be fast-tracking Harrison as a star of tomorrow.

Harrison has a football build to go along with speed in the outfield. He Hit 19 home runs last season to pace the Jumbo Shrimp.  He also had 48 RBIs, and 28 stolen bases in 136 games, but only hit .240 for the season in 136 games. The Marlins and Baby Cakes will need more hitting and fewer mistakes at the plate.

He and his fellow minor leaguers were given specific plans to work on their mechanics this offseason. As Michael Hill, president of baseball operations for the franchise stated, Harrison’s game plan was easy to pinpoint.

He was asked to get more hits, put the ball in play and hustle like he had been doing in North Florida.

"“We have player plans where we look at their areas of improvement and what they need to do to continue to get better and make it to the big leagues,” Hill said. “It was no secret that we’re trying to cut down on the strikeouts for Monte and get his swing a little more under control so that he could have more contact, and make more impact, and do more damage.”"

By midseason, Harrison could be sharing the outfield with Brinson, another young hitter the Marlins are counting on in the future. If both players are playing improved baseball from their 2018 seasons, then the trade of Yelich could be viewed as a victory for both franchises.

First, Harrison must prove the changes he has made in the desert this offseason will translate to improved play in Spring Training and the Big Easy for that to happen.

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