Spring training is an exciting time for every baseball player as the camp presents an opportunity to start out with a clean slate. Whether a player found great success, or fought through some adversity the previous season, spring is a time to put the past behind you and push forward.
Looking to do just that in 2016, Toronto Blue Jays outfield prospect David Harris is back with the club at their minor league complex in Dunedin, Florida. Harris is hoping to build off his busy offseason, where he performed extremely well in the Australian Baseball League as a member of the Canberra Cavalry.
Carrying an impressive .346/.418/.531 slash line with Canberra was a promising sign that the Texas native was starting to turn a corner in professional baseball. Sixty-two hits in 179 at-bats, including 11 doubles, two triples, and six home runs, was a great way to cap off his amazing experience down under.
“I was excited for the opportunity to play in Canberra,” said Harris who sported a .949 OPS in the ABL. “It’s what God had in store for me this offseason and I’m appreciative for the opportunity to continue to grow as a player.”
Finding success in the ABL was just what Harris needed before entering his third spring training in the Blue Jays organization. The 24-year old faced some obstacles last season as he battled through a high ankle sprain that limited his action and hindered his performance with the Dunedin Blue Jays and the Lansing Lugnuts.
“I had a high ankle sprain and I was trying to get it better during the 2015 season,” explained Harris. “I wasn’t able to move side-to-side like I used too. But I feel I can use the jets when I need too. I just work off of that. God has blessed me with speed. I know it’s still there and it’s getting better every day.”
Despite the nagging injury Harris performed close to his career numbers for his 2015 campaign thanks in part to a strong second half effort in the Midwest League. With a career slash line of .258/.301/.390. Harris wasn’t too far off in all three areas with a .256/.303/.391 slash line last season.
Speedy players never like injuries involving their legs, as they are key parts of their game. The ankle sprain didn’t slow Harris down too much, defensively speaking. His range was limited a bit due to the pain, but he still maintained above-average numbers at the corner outfield spots.
Logging 532 innings in the outfield between the two clubs; Harris committed just five errors, while picking up 13 outfield assists and taken part in a double play.
It will be interesting to see if he can translate his ABL performance to his affiliate club this season. It will be harder to maintain those numbers throughout a full 140-game schedule. But it’s definitely promising that Harris had as much success as he did this past winter.
With a lot of players with Double-A and Triple-A service time competing in the ABL it’s great seeing a player who hasn’t played above ‘A’ ball succeed the way Harris did in his 48 games with the Cavalry.
Taking advantage of opportunities is something that’s in his blood. Spending his previous offseason at his home in Houston, Texas; Harris used the majority of his time training in his dad’s private facility and coaching youth baseball.
“I spent my previous offseason working with my dad,” stated Harris. “My dad works with six teams. He works with an AU team called the Houston Miracles and I was one of the coaches. I also worked out every day. My Dad has his own facility and I was able to use it every day. It was a good experience.”
Most likely joining the Dunedin Blue Jays next month, Harris will look for a better outcome this time around with the Blue Jays advanced-A affiliate.
Wherever he ends up though, fans of the Blue Jays are thrilled to see David Harris healthy and striving once again.