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 Minor League News & Autograph Blog Home

Top Prospect Alert - Brendan Harris

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 8/26/80, Age: 22, Bats/Throws: R/R, Height: 6’1’’, Weight: 195. Acquired: Cubs - Drafted in the 5th Round of the 2001 Draft (William & Mary). 2001 Stats: (Low-A - Lansing) .274 AVG, 113 AB, 5 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 5 SB, 17 BB, 26 K, .369 OBP, .442 SLG. 2002 Stats: (High-A - Daytona) .329 AVG, 425 AB, 35 2B, 6 3B, 13 HR, 16 SB, 43 BB, 57 K, .395 OBP, .532 SLG; (AA - West Tennessee) .321 AVG, 53 AB, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 1 SB, 2 BB, 5 K, .345 OBP, .547 SLG.
    Brendan Harris has had an eventful 2003 already, and the calendar has barely flipped over to March. First of all, the good folks over at Baseball Prospectus came out with their annual top 40 prospects, and lo and behold, Brendan Harris was penned in at #18. As a point of reference, Harris was rated #8 on Baseball America’s top ten for the Cubs, and I haven’t seen him rated above #50 in baseball anywhere else. Needless to say, this caused quite a stir, especially when a good portion of the reasoning for the rating (aside from his excellent statistics) was a favorable comparison to Albert Pujols’ 2000 campaign. Setting aside the “how good is Brendan Harris” issue for one moment, allow me to focus on the primary argument against the comparison of Harris’ 2002 to Pujols’ 2000, which is that Pujols is perceived to be older than his listed age. If anything, that would put Harris on a higher track than Pujols, so that argument is one in favor of the parallels drawn by the comparison, not against. Pujols developed a lot of power seemingly in an instant, which is not something that one typically forecasts for any player. The similarities in the stat lines are certainly there, though, right down to the huge number of doubles, which is a positive indicator for future home run power. Harris is an athletic, line-drive hitter with gap power. He has 71 extra base hits in less than 600 at-bats as a professional, and he actually quickened his pace in that area after a late season promotion to AA. He does not have the look of a home run hitter, but neither did Sammy Sosa at this age, so projecting that is more art than science. Harris’ plate discipline is outstanding, with a slightly better than 0.7:1 BB/K ratio during his brief minor league career. He was a bit less selective in the small sample size at West Tennessee, so monitoring his early season patience would be wise, but he struck out less as well, so I am not concerned about it. On the bases and in the field, Harris shows off the athleticism that made him an all-NY basketball player in high school. He definitely has the skills to be a 20/20 player, perhaps better. In the field, he is capable of playing every infield position in at least an average fashion. He has been well above average at second, where the Cubs have Bobby Hill slated as their long-term answer, and he was also above average at the hot corner, where the Cubs have had a hole the size of the Sears Tower since Ron Santo left to become a perpetually underappreciated entity in the HOF balloting. The primary concern at third base would be his throwing arm, which is excellent, so I don’t see any reason why he will not settle in at that position, except for one small issue this spring: the Cubs decided that Harris looked like he could be a catcher, so they moved him there for a week. The experiment appears to be over already, but if the thought occurred once, it probably won’t die very easily. The Cubs have a hole at catcher as well, and if David Kelton ever figures out how to put his glove on properly, he could help over at third, freeing up Harris for the move. The words “it was just a thought” probably were emitted at some point over the past week, and you certainly can’t blame the Cubs for trying something new.   
    I have decided over the past five years or so that my two favorite NL teams (I’ve been an AL guy for life) are the Cubs and the Marlins, for whatever reason. Perhaps I could sense them both building for the future at the time, but I have loved watching Sammy since (and including) 1998, and I catch the Marlins young starters every chance I can with the DirecTV package. The Cubs are on the cusp of something special, with good to great prospects at nearly every position, a group of young flamethrowers, and a superstar to bring it all together. Choi, Hill, Harris, Kelton, Pie, Patterson, and Jackson are all at least somewhat exciting on the offensive end, although there is no conceivable situation that could get more than five of them in the lineup in the next few years. In the rotation, Prior is, well, there’s really no words that would suffice there, and Wood and Clement can both be dominant. Between Cruz, Zambrano, Farnsworth, and Francis Beltran, someone will emerge throwing pellets out of the pen, and they have guys like Guzman, Sisco, and Hagerty moving up behind this group. It is truly a dizzying array of talent, and before a Cubs fan jumps in and tells me that they will find a way to blow it, let me just say that I don’t want to hear it. The Cubs haven’t had this kind of opportunity in the recent past, so we don’t know what they will do with it. My hope is that Dusty Baker finds a way to integrate some of these kids quickly, before guys like Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek capture too much of his attention. Harris will likely start 2003 where he finished 2002, which is playing third base in AA, but he could be in Chicago by the end of the year if Mark Bellhorn can’t handle the hot corner. I like the Pujols comparison to some extent, and one with Edgardo Alfonzo would work as well. Either way, it looks like the Cubs have another very talented youngster who will be clamoring for a job in Chicago by 2004. Since that job will have been open for thirty years at that point, I would expect that they will accept his application happily. By the way, I will go out on a limb and say that the Cubs will be returning to the playoffs this year, and it won’t be the last time this decade (or the next to last time) that they get there. Methinks the wait is almost over, except for the Red Sox……..  


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