The backstory of Mitch Harris is one that captures the attention of numerous sportswriters and fans alike. As the right-handed relief pitcher nears the Major Leagues, he has become more and more noticed.
Here is a brief capsule of Harris’ journey to date:
2005-2008: Twice a third-team All-American for the United States Naval Academy
2007: Junior drafted by Atlanta Braves in 24th round – did not sign
2008: Senior drafted in 13th round by St. Louis Cardinals – signed
2008-2012: Required to serve in Navy for five years – tried unsuccessfully several times to shorten commitment
2012: Pitched in extended spring training and instructional league around conclusion of Naval service
2013: First professional baseball action at State College
2014: Played for Palm Beach, Springfield, Memphis (one game) and Arizona Fall League
2015: Likely to be part of Memphis relief corps
During 2014 Major League spring training, Harris had been brought in from minor league camp to pitch for St. Louis. This was unusual for a short-season pitcher.
With “Anchors Aweigh” playing from the Roger Dean Stadium speakers, Harris took the mound but quickly showed he was overmatched against the more advanced hitters. He secured just one out, while yielding three runs on two homers.
Harris was honored to be given the opportunity, but at the same time acknowledged that he was not yet ready developmentally. That soon changed. As his pitches and velocity came back during the 2014 season while playing across three levels, the 29-year-old clearly put himself on the Cardinals’ radar screen.
In the interview that follows, conducted last week in Florida, Harris discusses his last year. His comments include a notation that while he is proud of his background, he wants to be known first and foremost for his results on the mound.
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