Michael Harris II has reached base safely in each of Double-A Mississippi’s 21 games to start the season, and tonight he was more than comfortable rounding them.
“Lately, I’ve just told myself to play with confidence and ever since then I’ve been doing damage and just playing the way I know I can play,” said Harris. “I just go out there with confidence every day and try to have fun and the streak still continues.”
Harris, the No. 63 prospect in baseball, took a strike to start the game, then belted the second offering well over the right-field wall, punctuating his leadoff blast with a bat flip. The long ball pushed his hitting streak to seven games.
“I’ve never done it, so I really enjoyed that one,” said Harris about the bat flip. “It’s always good to get your pitcher out there with the lead.”
The M-Braves went down 3-1 in the second inning and tacked on a run on Drew Lugbauer’s solo shot in the top of the fourth. Harris drilled a line drive in the third inning that hung up long enough to be caught and grounded out to the pitcher to end the top of the fourth.
In the bottom half of the inning, Harris showed off his elite range in center field to make a nice running grab on a fly ball to left-center off the bat of Evan Edwards.
“I take so much pride in my defense, I think a lot of people don’t know that about me,” said Harris. “I probably get more mad about making a mental mistake in the outfield than striking out or taking a bad swing. I really love defense, I feel like it saves a lot of runs for a lot of pitchers, and pitchers really love you for that when you can minimize the runs they give up.”
The score would remain 3-2 until the bottom of the eighth inning, when Montgomery scored two runs on back-to-back home runs by Jordan Qsar and Grant Witherspoon. The M-Braves responded in the top of the ninth to tie the game at 5 on a three-run homer by Luke Waddell, sending the game to extra innings.
The M-Braves took control in the top of the 10th. Trey Harris walked with the bases loaded to give Mississippi its first lead since the third inning, then Jalen Miller followed with a grand slam to bring the score to 10-5. Harris crushed his second home run of the game to go back-to-back and seal the scoring, as the M-Braves held on for the win.
“It was really impressive. It shows the fight we have, the competitiveness we have in us,” said Harris on the M-Braves’ comeback. “Most of these guys were on the championship team last year, so you know they have that characteristic in them: The fight, the dog and the winning mentality. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
Harris is yet to have a day off this season and for good reason: He’s been the M-Braves’ most productive hitter. The Georgia native is slashing .333/.396/.586 with a .982 OPS, four home runs, two triples, six doubles, nine stolen bases, 16 runs scored and 19 RBIs. That’d be great production from a middle-of-the-order bat, but Harris has done all of his damage from the leadoff spot, starting every game there.
“I just try to do everything I can to help the team win, whether that’s defensively, hitting, baserunning,” said Harris. “I just want to continue being me, playing with confidence and having fun every day.”
The 21-year-old is highly touted for his contact, speed and defense, but his newfound power stroke makes him an even more valuable piece for Atlanta. Harris set his career high in home runs last season with seven and is already more than halfway there. If he keeps showing in-game power, he gives the Braves a legitimate five-tool outfielder to pair with Ronald Acuña Jr. in the Truist Park outfield.