Every spring training several players stand out who were not on anyone’s radar when spring training started. After week one Chase Harris fits that description. A fourth outfielder last year for Williamsport he hit .200 in 75 at bats and his only extra base hits in the NY-Penn League were two doubles. With 20 outfielders in the minor league camp and more expected to be sent down from the major league camp soon, a guy like Harris does not seem to have much of a chance to stick.
I watched Harris play three time last week including two games over the weekend. In each game he did something extraordinary, especially for a seldom used 14th round draft pick from last season out of New Mexico.
In the first game I saw him play he lined two base hits in his first two times up. Then, on Saturday against the Yankees AA team I had to ask “who was that guy in centerfield?”. Harris caught a long drive over his shoulder running toward the batter’s eye in centerfield at Schmidt Field and later he laid out to catch a ball in the left center gap. Wow was that really Chase Harris?
Yesterday was made difficult by the fact that instead of the scheduled 1:00 o’clock start the Phillies decided to start the A ball games against the Pirates at 11:00 a.m. So Baseball Betsy and I rolled in around one o’clock just in time to see Harris line a home run over the left centerfield fence on Ashburn Field.
So in three games I have seen him play, he has had two hard hit singles, made two great catches and hit a home run. Not bad for for a guy fighting for a job. Harris still has a big challenge ahead of him to win a roster spot. He turns 24-years old in July and stands only 6’0″ 190 lbs. With Williamsport he stole only three of seven bases. Nothing special there.
The minor league camp still has two weeks to go before the teams break on Saturday, April 4th. Three teams will head north, Lehigh Valley, Reading and Lakewood. Two teams will stay here, the Threshers and the Extended Spring Training teams.
Right now Chase Harris is still in the hunt for a spot on one of these squads as a fourth outfielder. After one week of camp he has been one of the best players here. But his work is not yet done.