Name: Estee Harris
DOB: January 8, 1985
Height: 6' 0"
When draft day rolled around in 2003, most people were aware of what the Yankees were getting in 1st round pick, Eric Duncan, but most were less aware of 2nd round pick, Estee Harris. Although he was not a widely known high school prospect, Estee Harris was someone that New York saw a bright future for. You could call him their own personal finding, as the Long Island native was scouted almost exclusively by the Yankees. However, the Yankees were convinced that he had a real deal bat with real deal speed. With that being said, they took a chance and drafted a highly projectable Estee Harris in the 2nd round of the 2003 draft. He signed soon after and would be assigned to the Gulf Coast Yankees to begin his career.
"In the draft you never know who you will be drafted by but it was great the way it worked out that I did end up getting drafted by them," Harris told PinstripesPlus.com. "First and foremost I just wanted to get drafted period. I wasn't picky or choosy but if I could have picked a team to get drafted by it would definitely have been the Yankees." Harris went on to have a fantastic season in the Gulf Coast in 2003, further raising his praise from the Yankees along with his expectations. Suddenly Estee found himself near the top of Yankee prospect lists and was riding high going into 2004. However, maybe things were about to move a little too quickly from the teenager, as he would be sent to low A Battle Creek to open the 2004 season.
By sending a still very raw player to full season ball, the Yankees showed extreme confidence in one of their prize draftees, Harris. But, to their displeasure, the left fielder got off to a dismal start, batting .214 with a whopping 82 strikeouts in 192 at bats. At this point, the Yankees knew it was time to make a change; they sent him all the way back to the Gulf Coast League to straighten himself out. He only had 15 at bats there and was soon sent to Staten Island where he would play the remainder of the season. "It was a bit disappointing because you always want to keep on moving forward, but I did realize that I did struggle there," said Harris. "I don't think it was so much the competition but me trying to find myself at the plate. I just noticed it was an internal slump. I just have to keep working on it and get myself back on track by working harder." But, once he arrived in Staten Island, it looked like had found himself in a big way. Estee was batting right around .300 heading into August and was also among the team leaders in home runs. Who would have believed at that point that by the end of the season, his batting average would have dipped into the .240's? Well, it is true; the young Harris ran into one of the most treacherous slumps a player could possibly come upon. This slump would last for the rest of the season and it really saw all the confidence and momentum Harris had built up go up in flames. But, there were some things to build off considering the good power season he had and the lefty hitting left fielder understands this. "You have to keep a level head. You can't get to high and to low. Baseball is a game of failure and you have to have the right mindset, because if you don't it will really mess you up at the plate. You just need to keep a level head and stay positive."
Batting and Power. Let's put it this way, the first time Mark Newman saw Estee Harris play, he blasted a home run that was measured at 470 feet. From that moment on, the Yankees were infatuated with Estee's bat. With his very small, slender frame, it is absolutely amazing how much power he can generate. In fact, he is one of the better power hitting prospects in the Yankee System. Despite his struggles to hit for consistent average, his power has not left him. In 2004, he hit a combined total of 10 home runs, an excellent total for a 19 year old, wiry hitter. In a way, he reminds us of a left hand hitting version of Alfonso Soriano. Harris has excellent wrist action, generating most of his power that way. But, much like Tim Battle, he just needs to find more consistency with his stroke. The big thing for him is to simply cut back on his swing though. Many of his strikeouts boil down to him simply swinging too hard. He has a natural slight uppercut much like the player he likes to be compared to, Ken Griffey Jr. Once he can harness his swing and learn to take two strike swings, Harris could be a tremendous power hitting threat. He just needs to learn to settle for a single once in a while and put the ball on the ground to help utilize his speed. Power is his game, but he sometimes falls in love with it. Also, his strikeout totals are frighteningly too high. They must come down.
Base running and Speed. You can say one thing, Estee Harris looks like a legitimate base stealer. He's still working on the knack for it but he is still very young. But, he has the explosive speed to do it. Besides Tim Battle, he may the fastest pure runner in the farm system. Once he gets more experience, look for Harris to be a perennial 30 stolen base guy. Right now, he's concentrating more on improving his stroke but his speed will become more of a weapon for him when he cuts back on his strikeouts. Estee has great range in the outfield as well.
Defense. With the type of speed that Estee Harris has, he has the ability to cover the ground of any Yankee center field prospect. However, the problem is that he will never be able to play center field. Why? Well, his throwing arm is incredibly below average. When he was in high school, he developed a very odd throwing motion that has hampered his ability to make strong throws. A good comparison for him is Shannon Stewart. He's a guy with center field speed, range and instincts but his throwing arm will always limit him to left field duties. Considering the landscape of left field in Yankee Stadium, Harris could patrol that ground quite well.
Projection. At this early stage of his development, it is not too simple to predict what kind of player Harris may be. However, what he does have the potential to be is .290 type of hitter with 30 HR power. Not to mention, he could be a huge stolen base threat. However, he has a lot of work to be done. He'll need to cut back on his swing and trust his quick wrists a little more. If he could cut back on the strikeouts, he could be an excellent offensive player.
ETA. Late 2008. The road for Estee Harris is going to be quite similar to that of Tim Battle. They were drafted only a round apart and they should follow a similar path in their rise through the farm system. 2005 should have Harris as the full time left fielder in Charleston. He should remain there for an entire season. Then, in 2006, he'll likely be a part of the Tampa outfield. 2007 should have him playing in AA Trenton. And, in 2008, he could play in Columbus. Look for a possible late season callup if all goes according to plan.