NEW YORK—State champion St. Thomas More High in Lafayette, La., produced one of the top prep catchers in last year’s draft, Royals first-round pick Chase Vallot, and his batterymate, lefthander Hogan Harris, has emerged as one of the better prep southpaws in this year’s class.
Harris was a standout in both stuff and performance at East Coast Pro—striking out six of the nine hitters he faced on 10 swinging strikes against a potent Cubs lineup—and threw well on the final day of the Metropolitan Baseball Classic to help Marucci Elite clinch a fifth place in the eight-team event. The lefthander held the Northeast Mets Scout Team scoreless in four innings and did not allow a hit, walking one and striking out six of the 14 hitters on 11 swinging strikes, with seven coming off his fastball.
Harris has an easy delivery and his fastball sat 87-89, touching 91 mph after bumping 93.2 at Perfect Game National, according to TrackMan. After gaining 15 pounds and growing a few inches, his fastball velocity has increased from topping at 86 at this time last year.
His four-seam fastball offers deception and plays up beyond its pure velocity with natural glove-side run. TrackMan indicates that his deceptive fastball has a high-spin rate that correlates with swing-and-miss rates. He had the second-highest spin rate of any lefthander at PGN and the fourth-highest of any pitcher at the Perfect Game All-American Classic.
The 17-year-old also flashed a two-seamer with downhill plane and late sink to his arm side when he was on top from his three-quarters slot, flashing above-average life.
“The sink is something I have been working on for a few years now,” Harris said. “I am starting to get the velocity. But when I first got the velocity it didn't have much run at all. So I have been trying to get more two-seam action.”
Harris has a loose, quick arm. But how loose?
“The arm flexibility is really the main thing that I work on a lot,” Harris said. “Most people I know can’t do this. I use that flexibility as an advantage.”
Harris rises to his feet to perform arm swings that most pitchers incorporate as part of their warmup routine. His hands cross horizontally in the front of his body and when they swing behind him an audible clap noise is heard as his hands collide, a rare display of flexibility.
This flexibility helps him in his pronounced cross-body delivery that was not as severe on the Citi Field mound and was the most direct his stride has been to the plate this summer.
“I am never going to get to straight (to the plate), but I have been trying to get to more straight than stepping two feet across,” Harris said. “I try to get between six inches and a foot so it is not as much stress on the arm but it is still odd to look at from a batter’s standpoint. It felt weird when I was two feet across. I could still get my arm up there but I felt like I had to strain a lot more to get it there. At six inches to a foot there is no strain at all and it is a lot easier to throw strikes so I don't have to come all the way across to throw a fastball inside to righthanded hitters. I have been working on that this summer.”
His top secondary offering is a big-breaking curveball that ranged from 68-72. Harris varies the tilt of the offering depending on hitter handedness. The shape of the offering gives it above-average potential with additional power.
“It is pretty slow, so I am trying to work on making it faster but as of now I will take the speed because it is still moving pretty good,” Harris said. “Normally if I am trying to go for a backside look on an outside curve I will get on top of it a little more to create more down angle. If I am trying to get it to run across, like if I see a righty swinging over, I will come down with my slot to get a little more slurve action than just a curve.”
His breaking ball has routinely produced some of the highest spin rates in the prep class, according to TrackMan, ranking second at both PGN (2,757) and the All-American Classic (2,692). Both rates are well below-average for the Major League level, where any spin rate exceeding 2,500 is in the top 14th percentile. He was the only pitcher at PGN to place in the top 20 in the fastball velocity, fastball spin rate and breaking ball rate categories.
Although his changeup is his third offering and doesn't get used often, he shows feel for the high-70s offering that flashes at least average, according to evaluators. All but one of the four changeups he threw in Citi Field went for strikes, producing two swings and misses.
Harris’ goal for the offseason is improving his control and command, which have wavered at times this summer with his cross-body delivery.
“I want to consistently throw more throwing strikes,” Harris said. “I throw quite a bit of strikes but want to throw a higher percentage of strikes and I want to understand where. I know I can throw strikes inside and outside but I want to know exactly where it is going. I can usually get it within a 12 inch range. But I want it exactly here versus there.”
The 6-foot-1, 201-pound Harris plans on throwing this fall in Jupiter.
• Marucci Elite center fielder D.J. Wilson showcased his plus speed in New York, stealing three bases in his final game one day after making a diving highlight reel catch in the outfield. His speed plays on the bases, and he showed the baserunning instincts to successfully pull off a delayed steal of second. The lefthanded-hitter produces quality at-bats with feel for the strike zone. He has an aggressive, quick stroke and a compact bat path. He showed surprising juice to his pull side, showing warning track power in batting practice from his athletic 5-foot-8, 162-pound frame. The Canton South (Ohio) High product is committed to Vanderbilt.