Braves 2021 Minor League Player of the Year

Leading up to the season, outfielder Michael Harris grabbed the headlines for the many accolades he received from Braves manager Brian Snitker.

“He’s an awesome baseball player over there,” Snitker said at the time. “You speak of skills, of approach. . . I don’t think I would waste any money if I say he’s going to be a young big leaguer.

Harris, 20, has lived up to his expectations this season at High-A Rome. He reached .294 / .362 .436 with 26 doubles, three triples, seven homers and 64 RBIs in his second full professional season. He went 27 for 31 on stolen bases.

His production matched the hype of the preseason. In July, Harris was asked about Snitker’s comments. He said he was flattered, but stressed that it meant little unless he kept growing.

“Coming from a major league coach is good,” said Harris. “But I still have to go out and do what I can do every day. I don’t think about that. I just try to improve myself every day to get there.

Harris, a 2019 third round from Stockbridge (Ga.) High, was also spotted as a left-handed pitcher as an amateur. The Braves, drawn to his athleticism, viewed him as a left-handed center fielder.

He has made a strong impression ever since. The 6-foot, 195-pound Harris is the next in a long line of Atlanta-area talent to become the Braves’ top prospects, following Jeff Francoeur, Brian McCann, Jason Heyward and Dansby Swanson.

“It’s really great, I really love all the fans,” said Harris. “They give us a lot of support. It’s fantastic actually. Being local, a lot of minor league teams are in the area, so it’s not really far for my family to come and watch. “

Harris, who drew rave reviews on the alternative training site last summer for not only his talent but his character, will enter 2022 with even higher expectations. He is ready for a rapid ascent through the system.

In doing so, he may establish himself as the organization’s # 1 prospect.

WIGWAM WISPS

– Right-hander Bryce Elder had good reason to be the Braves’ player of the year in minor leagues. Texas’ fifth round in 2020 has gone from High-A Rome to Triple-A Gwinnett this season, posting a 2.75 ERA across three levels. He impressed more in Triple-A than in Double-A Mississippi.

Elder, who struck out 155 batters in 137.2 innings, is positioned for his major league debut in 2022.

– Catcher Shea Langeliers has had a solid season at Double-A Mississippi, showing his nascent power potential with 22 home runs and stellar defense. He used his arm more to take out 42% of the base thieves. He received a late promotion to Triple-A Gwinnett after the Mississippi season ended.

–Another minor league candidate of the year was right-hander Spencer Strider, 22, who started the year at Low-A Augusta and was promoted to Triple-A in late September. Strider struck out 153 in 94 minor league innings and was called up to Atlanta on October 1.

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