Mitch Harris to return to original uniform

The St. Louis Cardinals' 13th round selection from the 2008 draft will have to keep waiting to make his official professional baseball debut.

A journey that began almost four years ago will apparently continue at least 12 months longer for St. Louis Cardinals pitching prospect Mitch Harris. The 26-year-old announced on Wednesday afternoon that the Navy has rejected his request to leave his mandatory service a year early.


Harris' statement:
"My request to be released a year early to pursue baseball was denied today. I am still pursuing the dream and will continue to do everything the right way. I have faced numerous challenges over the past 6 months and this is just another opportunity to strengthen myself and prove that adversity defines a person. Thank all of you who have and are supporting me."

A positive decision could have allowed the right-hander to keep pitching. Harris has been participating in the Cardinals organization's extended spring training program since late March. It was his first opportunity to pitch, albeit briefly, in a Cardinals uniform.

A Cardinals official did not immediately respond when asked to comment about Harris' pitching in EST and how this decision may affect the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder's future in the system.

The organization's 13th round pick in the 2008 draft from the US Naval Academy has been on active duty ever since being drafted by St. Louis. He was considered by some draft watchers to be a top-five round talent, but dropped due to the uncertainty over his military commitment.

Lt. j.g. Harris had an ongoing request for an early release from that active duty requirement, but until now, he had no clear indication which way it would go.

He now apparently has to report to a new command in May for his final year of service after a two-month window between deployments allowed him the opportunity to begin to fulfill his dream – one that will soon be placed back on hold.

The Cardinal Nation writer Dustin Mattison contributed to this article.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his minor league features during the season at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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