Tuesday, November 23, 2021
The offseason is here and it’s a perfect time to recap the 2021 season of each of the Braves top 30 prospects. In this series, I’ll discuss each player’s performance from this past year, as well as what’s needed for them to continue to rise in the organization. All rankings are derived from my most-recent 2021 Braves Top 30 Prospect List, which came out this past August. Following this series, a fresh top 30 will be constructed, primarily based on the notes I’ll provide in this column.
- Jefrey Ramos, OF (link)
- Brandol Mezquita, OF (link)
- Cody Milligan, 2B (link)
- Drew Lugbauer, 1B/DH (link)
- Tanner Gordon, RHP (link)
- Greyson Jenista, OF/1B (link)
- William Woods, RHP (link)
- Darius Vines, RHP (link)
- Cal Conley, SS/2B (link)
- Daysbel Hernandez, RHP (link)
#20. TREY HARRIS, OF
2021 stats (AA): 96 G, .247 AVG, 8 HR, 89 wRC+
Coming off one of the best single-seasons in some time by a Braves minor league position-player two years ago (earning him Minor League Batter of the Year in 2019), Harris’ prospect stock has begun to decline now that he’s reached the upper-minors and coming up on his age-26 season. In case you forgot, the outfielder hit .323 with 14 homers and 73 RBI, to go with eight stolen bases, in 131 games combined between Single-A, High-A and Double-A in 2019. That impressive performance earned him a no. 11 ranking in my first set of rankings this past season.
However, leading up to my midseason Top 30 in 2021 (where I ranked him 20th), Harris only managed a .653 OPS in 84 games through Aug. 31 as he struggled to provide much power versus lefty-pitching. Overall this past season, even though is AVG versus both flavors of pitching remained fairly consistent, 16 of his 19 XBH came against righties. By far, Harris’ best stretch of play came in the final month as he hit .309 with a monthly-best seven doubles in 17 September games. It wasn’t a bad year for Harris, but given his incredible 2019 campaign, it was quite a step back.
As you may know, Harris was not protected from this year’s Rule 5 Draft, which will come on December 8. Although, according to Braves Journal’s Ryan Cothran — who has written extensively on the subject — the chances that Harris is taken in the draft is fairly unlikely. In fact, Cothran gives it only a 10% chance.
So moving along with the expectation that Harris remains in the Braves system, it’s fair to say that 2022 is a big year for the soon-to-be 26-year-old (his birthday is in January). The organization is pretty flush when it comes to talented and up-and-coming outfielders, so it’s crucial to his stock that Harris returns more to his 2019 self. Before the 2021 season, it appeared he was on his way to potentially becoming a solid fourth outfielder for the Braves, though now I’m not so sure.
However, there’s also another route for Harris (which I’ve brought up before). Back in his college summer days (2016), he played some infield, totaling a combined nine games at both second and third. Obviously, he’s never done so as a pro, and nine games is basically nothing, but going more towards a utility-type role could improve Harris’ chances at breaking through. The Braves haven’t mentioned any such changes, and I highly doubt they do, but it is an idea.
Either way, given his age and the fact that he’s at nearly 140 career games at the Double-A level, I expect Harris to start 2022 with Triple-A Gwinnett, where he’ll join what’ll no doubt be a crowded outfield. This is still a fairly toolsy prospect, with speed, defense and solid bat, but at this point I’m afraid he’s beginning to run out of time. I’m anxious to see how he handles Triple-A pitching.