The York Revolution rolled to the Atlantic League title with a roster filled with big names.
There were former big leaguers like Alexi Casilla and Jose Arredondo and former top prospects in Joel Guzman, Carlos Triunfel and Jared Mitchell.
But the best player on the team and the best player in the Atlantic League was a 39th-round draft pick of the Mets who never made it above Double-A in affiliated ball.
Alonzo Harris had been released by the Mets in 2013. He made an 11-game cameo with the Marlins high Class A team in 2014 before beginning his life in indy ball.
And in the process, he’s turned himself into a much better player than the one he was in affiliated ball.
Harris hit for New Jersey in the Can-Am League. He then moved on to the American Association’s St. Paul Saints, where he hit for average and power. Jumping up to the Atlantic League this year, he proved to be the league’s best player, hitting .315/.381/.530 while leading the Revolution to the Atlantic League title.
For all that, Harris is Baseball America’s 2017 Independent Leagues Player of the Year. He led the Atlantic League in runs (89), finished fourth in home runs (23), sixth in steals (31), eighth in RBIs (73) and second in slugging percentage.
“I say some players have six tools. He has six tools because he’s a good guy too. He’s a good clubhouse guy. He can run. He has a strong arm. He can hit for average. He can hit for power. And he can play multiple positions,” York manager Mark Mason said.
“Not many guys you can hit leadoff who can hit 20-30 home runs. He can bunt for a hit in one at-bat and then hit the next one over the center field fence.”
It’s that newly developed power that gives a pretty good argument for Harris, 28, to get another try at affiliated ball. In parts of five seasons in full season leagues in affiliated ball, Harris hit 21 home runs. He’s hit 15, 15 and 23 in his past three years in indy ball.
As Harris sees it, the speed has always been there and so has the power, but it’s been in the past few years that he’s learned how to use his hands.
“It’s all about quick hands. When you learn how to use your hands, it’s as simple as that..With the Mets, I hit home runs but not a lot of home runs like the last three years. I always had a little power, but the Mets, they didn’t want me to…I had an aggressive swing. They thought I was trying to hit it over the fence at all times,” Harris said. “They thought i was trying to hit home runs, but I’ve been swinging like this since coach pitch. The power numbers, I guess it’s daddy strength now. I’ve got two kids.”
Harris says he still has the near top of the scale speed that he had when he was younger to go with his newfound ability to drive the ball over the wall.
He also showed plenty of versatilty this season. Harris played 44 games at second base, 37 games in left field, 16 in center field and 14 in right field, as he bounced around to wherever the Revolution needed someone on that night.
“He’s just a good team guy. He’s someone who says ‘I’ll do whatever you need me to do,’ “ Mason said.
2016: Art Charles, 1B, New Jersey (Can-Am League)
2015: Joe Maloney, of, Rockland (Can-Am League)
2014: Balbino Fuenmayor, 1b, Quebec (Can-Am League)
2013: C.J. Ziegler, 1b, Wichita (American Association)
2012: Blake Gailen, of, Lancaster (Atlantic)
2011: Chris Colabello, 1b, Worcester (Can-Am League)
2010: Beau Torbert, of, Sioux Falls (American Association)
2009: Greg Porter, of, Wichita (American Association)
2008: Patrick Breen, of, Orange County (Golden)
2007: Darryl Brinkley, of, Calgary (Northern)
2006: Ian Church, of, Kalamazoo (Frontier)
2005: Eddie Lantigua, 3b, Quebec (Can-Am)
2004: Victor Rodriguez, SS, Somerset (Atlantic)
2003: Jason Shelley, RHP, Rockford (Frontier)
2002: Bobby Madritsch, RHP, Winnipeg (Northern)
2001: Mike Warner, OF, Somerset (Atlantic)
2000: Anthony Lewis, 1B, Duluth-Superior (Northern)
1999: Carmine Cappucio, OF, New Jersey (Northern)
1998: Morgan Burkhart, 1B, Richmond (Frontier)
1997: Mike Meggers, OF, Winnipeg/Duluth (Northern)
1996: Darryl Motley, OF, Fargo-Moorhead (Northern)