A Mission to "Open Eyes"

Harris got some ABs during Spring Training (Waugh)

SAN ANTONIO, TX - The amount of talented prospects that take the field night in and night out for the Missions is far and away better than many Texas League teams. With an excellent pitching staff and some quality position players, one person who often gets left out of the conversation is outfielder Gary Harris. A look at Harris' career minor league numbers, and the question is why.

Harris might be considered a wild card in some respects, because the Mariners do not know what to expect from the 25-year-old. Are his skills still improving, or has he peaked as a Double-A outfielder?

Missions' manager Dave Brundage sees him as underrated and even unappreciated.

"We like what Gary Harris brings to the table," said Brundage. "We like his speed, we like his defense, we like his bat, it's just that he needs to understand the game a little bit and get some experience here at Double A."

Harris missed all of spring training and the first two weeks of the regular season due to a pectoral tear suffered while doing bench press in February. After working hard to stay in playing shape, Harris returned to the field earlier this month and was inserted in the leadoff spot in the batting order.

This move seemed to be a sure bet early on, because Harris caught fire and hit an upwards of .500 for the first several games following the move. Ever since, Harris has struggled to find consistency at the plate. The majority of his struggles have come with his lack of patience at the plate.

"Were trying to get him to work an at-bat, trying to understand the strike zone better, and work on him getting that on-base percentage up," Brundage said of Harris.

A prototypical leadoff hitter has certain qualities that are expected of them, and one of these main ingredients is on-base percentage, as Brundage made overwhelmingly clear. So far this season, Harris has an on-base percentage of .295. What contributes to this low mark is the strike out-to walk-ratio that he currently holds; six walks to 20 strikeouts.

Harris admits that he "needs to be more selective so I can get more walks and be on base more."

One thing that no one can argue is Harris' abilities as a stellar defensive outfielder. He has a great combination of speed and range that surely helps confort the Missions' pitching staff.

Harris realizes he's often overlooked by fans and scouts alike, but he doesn't let that affect his play. At least he tries not to.

"It happens to people, but you just got to go out there and give it your best, and someone's eyes are going to open some day and when they do you got your chance... and that's what I'm waiting for."


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