2013 State College Spikes Reliever of Year

Former Naval officer Mitch Harris not only has a good backstory, he delivered on the mound in his first season as a professional pitcher.

State College had one of the best bullpens in the New York-Penn League this year, thanks in part to big arms like Victor De Leon and Jhonny Polanco, but someone with a little less gas dominated opponents like no other Spikes reliever could.

Former Naval officer Mitch Harris carved up NY-PL batters all season, and finished the campaign with an 0.81 ERA over 33.1 innings.

The 13th-round pick of the Cardinals in 2008, Harris made his professional debut this year after spending his five years out of the Naval Academy serving three different tours of duty.

With his military commitment behind him, Harris not only returned to his stellar collegiate form, but felt that he made significant strides all season long.

Harris started the season with his fastball velocity hovering in the low 80s, but ramped it up into the mid to upper 80s, and low 90s at times, by the end of July. But despite not having a dominant fastball, Harris mixed speeds well and consistently missed barrels. In his 33.1 innings of work, Harris struck out 29 batters, and allowed just three earned runs on 22 hits.

The Mt. Holly, N.C. native was a bulldog on the mound this summer, refusing to back down from hitters.

His worst outing came against Auburn on August 23 when allowed two earned runs on two hits and two walks in 2/3 of an inning. But Harris allowed just one earned run the rest of the season en route to holding opposing hitters to a .193 average.

Jacob Booden was the go-to man for State College down the stretch, but if I had to pick one State College reliever to go to in the late a ballgame, it would be Harris.

The 6-foot-4 righty is definitely a player to keep an eye on next season. I fully expect Harris to open the season in Peoria, and would not be surprised if the Cardinals try to test him early.

At 27 years old, Harris' Major League window is closing before it ever completely opens, so the Cardinals will likely not waste time in determining whether or not he has what it takes.

Harris has a great story, and was a leader in the State College clubhouse this summer, but as good of a teammate as he was, he was an even better pitcher.

There was a lot of talent in the State College pen, but Harris was far and away the Spikes' most effective reliever, hence his selection as The Cardinal Nation State College Reliever of the Year for 2013.

SC Spikes relievers W L ERA G SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP HD GF
Mitch Harris 4 1 0.81 20 1 33.1 22 4 3 0 15 29 1.11 4 7
Jacob Booden 5 0 1.19 16 4 30.1 21 4 4 1 11 39 1.05 1 9
Chase Brookshire 1 0 1.59 9 2 22.2 20 9 4 0 3 19 1.01 0 2
Jhonny Polanco 4 3 2.63 22 1 37.2 34 14 11 2 14 44 1.27 5 3
Victor De Leon 5 2 2.87 17 0 37.2 31 14 12 2 17 37 1.27 2 5
Kyle Webb 1 2 3.12 17 2 26.0 27 12 9 0 4 20 1.19 2 8
Jeff Rauh 3 2 4.05 23 5 26.2 23 13 12 3 17 28 1.50 0 17
Mike Aldrete 1 0 6.97 13 1 20.2 29 18 16 2 13 18 2.03 2 7

Link to master article with all 2013 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that will include our selections as the State College Spikes Starting Pitcher and Player of the Year.

Follow Robert Davidson on Twitter at @robo_tweets, and on Flickr at flickr.com/photos/robert_davidson.

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