New Opportunity Excites Hobie Harris
On the morning of Dec. 12, Hobie Harris had just completed his workout warmup and was about to hit the weights when the music streaming from his phone suddenly stopped.
A call was coming in, but the 26-year-old righthander missed it, only to notice a string of texts from his agent. The last one really captured his attention.
"You’re a Blue Jay,” it read.
"It had slipped my mind that the Rule 5 was taking place," Harris said. "As soon as I read that, I called my agent and he told me I’d been selected in the Triple-A phase and that I’d be going across the bridge from Tampa to Dunedin for spring training.”
With that Harris went back to work, motivated by a new opportunity with Toronto after he had hit a wall after five seasons in the Yankees' system.
Unlike the major league Rule 5 draft, in which players selected must stick in the majors or be exposed to waivers and then offered back to their original club, the minor league portion has no such restrictions.
Save for five appearances at Double-A Trenton in 2018, Harris had essentially plateaued at high Class A Tampa. Toronto is intrigued by his combination of big velocity and north-south plan of attack featuring high fastballs and low curveballs.
Last season, the 26-year-old pitched to a 4.62 ERA in 48.2 innings over 29 games with Tampa, but his strikeout rate of 10.9 per nine innings suggest the potential for upside.
"One word I would use is just aggressive,” Harris said in describing himself on the mound. "I typically don't like to tip-toe around guys. I don't like to necessarily use their weaknesses as much as I like to use my strengths.
"I rely on my being able to use my fastball up in strike zone, especially late in the count. And then I can complement that with a curveball and a split-finger.”
Harris said his new opportunity with the Blue Jays prompted an "a-ha" moment. "I'm going to get to continue trying to climb the ladder and reach the ultimate goal of pitching in the big leagues.”