Dustin Harris Has An Upper-Level Hitting Approach
When the Rangers traded lefthander Mike Minor to the Athletics at the 2020 trade deadline, outfielder Marcus Smith was thought to be the prize of the two-player haul.
He can run, he hits for average and he added muscle in the offseason to add some pop to his lefthanded bat.
The other player in the deal was Dustin Harris, a first baseman who hit for average and controlled the zone but didn’t show much power.
One year later, Harris has been one of the biggest surprises and best development stories in the Rangers’ system.
After hitting .301/.389/.482 in 73 games for Low-A Down East, Harris swatted a pair of two-run homers in his High-A Hickory debut and hit safely in his first six games. After one hitless game, he then rattled off an 11-game hitting streak that included four more homers and six multi-hit games.
“What he does very very well is keep things simple and not try to do too much and do what the game asks, as cliche as that sounds,” Rangers farm director Paul Kruger said.
“We didn’t see him on the player-development side until he came to spring training this year. What we heard was he had a really good bat. He just has the ability to do great things with the barrel.”
The 22-year-old Harris has an advanced approach for his experience level and makes hard contact. He has figured out when he can take his shots at the long ball, which is what was missing in 2019.
Through 96 games Harris had hit .334/.410/.549 with 17 home runs, 24 stolen bases and a sturdy walk-to-strikeout ratio of 41-to-62.
He has also answered any doubts about his defense at first base, has convinced the Rangers he could play third base, and has them thinking he could handle the outfield corners.
“He’s an athletic kid who can hit,” Kruger said. “The prevailing thought is always if you can stay on the dirt, stay on the dirt, and that’s what we’re trying to do. He’s starting to open eyes because (he has) an upper-level approach for someone a lot of people didn’t know about.”
— Center fielder Evan Carter, the Rangers’ second-round pick in 2020, will not play for Low-A Down East again this season because of a stress fracture in his lower back. There has been healing, but not enough to risk playing him for just a few weeks to end the season. He is expected to play at instructional league.
— Marcus Smith’s season has been sacked by a recurring hamstring injury that has limited him to just three games.