After two seasons in the Marlins minor league system, is this the year outfielder Monte Harrison takes the next step toward stardom?
The first time I saw Miami Marlins outfielder Monte Harrison, he was imposing. A 6-foot-3 inch minor league prospect with muscles on top of muscles, swinging a bat like it was a stick and the baseball diamond was his backyard.
That was two seasons ago, right after the Marlins acquired Harrison from the Milwaukee Brewers and he was assigned to Double-A Jacksonville. Now a more complete player who “grew” a bit at New Orleans in 2019, the 2020 season is about Harrison cracking the team’s Major League roster and attempting to win the centerfield job that is presently open amongst many competitors.
"“He’s always trying to make a play,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said at MLB’s winter meetings in San Diego via The Miami Herald. “He’s either trying to steal a bag or first to third, throw somebody out, trying to square somebody up, hit a ball hard. It’s just like he’s always trying to do something. I love his energy and just the confidence that he brings.”"
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That confidence will come in handy when Harrison comes to Jupiter for the beginning of Spring Training in February. The Marlins outfield is a crowded scene right now, especially since the front office acquired both Matt Kemp and Corey Dickerson in the past two weeks. With the holdovers from last season and other minor leaguers looking to make their own impact in camp, this could be the most fun the Marlins coaching staff has had in some time making roster decisions.
And the most painful.
Harrison was mainly a power hitter in Jacksonville who struck out over 200 times for the Jumbo Shrimp. He moved up to New Orleans and changed his approach, becoming a more patient hitter and learning to use his speed to steal bases and move players around the horn. It worked and if Harrison does indeed make the Opening Day roster, he could be the team’s leadoff hitter.
"“Harrison, the Marlins’ No. 5 prospect and the No. 83 overall prospect in MLB, hit .274 with nine home runs 24 RBI, 41 runs scored and 20 stolen bases for the Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate New Orleans Baby Cakes last season,” Jordan McPherson writes. “However, he was limited to 56 games at the highest minor-league level due to an assortment of injuries, primarily a right wrist injury that shut him down for nearly two months at the end of the season.”"
The Marlins have Dickerson penciled in at one of the corner outfield spots. Brian Anderson figures to grab the other one. Then it gets interesting. Kemp, Jon Berti, Harold Ramirez, Garrett Cooper, Austin Dean, and Magneuris Sierra all have a legitimate shot to earn a starting spot. And let’s not forget Lewis Brinson, who came over with Harrison in the deal two seasons ago.
Despite the crowded outfield, this might be Harrison’s time. If he is not on the MLB roster to start the season, he figures to be the first position played called up this season. And once he gets to the Show, there may be no stopping him in showing how good he can be in the outfield and on the base pads.