Kary Booher of the Springfield News-Leader checked in with St. Louis Cardinals draft pick and current US Navy serviceman Mitch Harris this week. His article had a lot of great information about the process of Harris transferring to the US Navy reserves and therefore being able to join the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system. Hit the link and read the whole thing, but there are a lot of interesting new information in the article. Booher cites three recent transfer requests for a pro football player and two minor league baseball players.
The Reserves have two options that would allow Harris to enter the minor leagues: Active reserve, in which he reports only one weekend a month and two weeks a year; or the Individual Ready Reserve, which doesn’t require either.
Harris, who applied for the transfer in November 2009, said he recently learned that his roughly 20-page request package had reached the Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy’s highest ranking officer. The CNO reports directly to the Secretary of the Navy.
Basically, it means Harris is two OKs away from entering the Cardinals’ system.
If green-lighted, Harris would enter spring training next March at age 25.
Harris will spend the next few months working out in anticipation that the Navy might grant the transfer and clear the way for his first spring training in March.
Age 25 is the slightest bit too old for a prospect and it is obvious from the start that Mitch Harris will not be your run of the mill prospect when he is able to join the Cardinals farm system. He’ll be 25 this year or 28 when his full 5 year commitment runs out. He has not played baseball in two years. What kind of pitcher can the Cardinals expect to see when he arrives? Kary Booher has a scouting report from Baseball America.
Baseball America’s 2008 scouting report noted that, “(Harris) consistently pitches in the low-90s. He has plus command of three pitches — fastball, slider and changeup — and all three have potential to be major league average.”
More scouting reports and more from Booher after the jump.
Harris, who now reaches the low-90s and can hit 94. “I’ve gotten bigger and stronger, more confident all around.” He has also refined a cut fastball, a slider and an off-speed breaking ball, all of which he “throws downhill,” says an East Coast scout, meaning that, on the mound, Harris looks taller than he is. He followed up his sophomore season with similar numbers as a junior (8–5, 2.14, 119 K’s in 88e innings) and has pitched well this year after missing time with a separated shoulder he suffered in a fall. “He’s 22 years old,” says Coach Kostacopoulos, “but his arm is a lot younger than that.”
When he makes it to the Cardinals farm system, he has a story that you cannot even make up. It is something from a movie.
Upon graduation, Harris served an 18-month deployment aboard the U.S.S. Ponce that ended Nov. 1. He took his glove and three baseballs aboard, and he took advantage of the ship’s flight deck, large enough for a helicopter. Often, Harris sought out fellow sailors who would agree to catch his short pitching sessions there. He usually wore the game-day hat emblazoned with the “STL” logo that Abbamondi gave him upon signing his first pro contract.
Let’s take a look back at the process as the Cardinals front office and his ship leaders are rally to his side to try to help him fulfill his dream of playing in the major leagues. One would think, without knowing anything about the Navy’s process, that Mitch Harris would have a good chance of securing the transfer to the reserves.
The executive and commanding officers of the U.S.S. Ponce, as well as the commander of their five-boat amphibious unit, have written letters of support.
The Cardinals’ front office wrote on his behalf, too.
The organization emphasized that it would promote the Navy and its recruiting efforts by placing Harris in community relations work at high schools and ROTC units of area colleges, Harris said.
Harris piled up ridiculous strikeout numbers with the Navy baseball team in the Patriot league and with 3 major league pitches, Mitch Harris will be an asset to the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system whenever he reports. However, it would be for the better for Harris and for the Cardinals if he was able to report to spring training this year rather than in 3 years. An excellent point that was made in the ESPN article was that even when he was 22, his arm still was not tired or even fully utilized. It would seem he is capable of quite a bit more than he did with the Navy baseball team. That is the reason the Cardinals took the risk to sign Harris even while he was tied to a 5 year commitment to the Navy. Harris may stay in extended spring training his first season in the minors, but I do not see any reason why he would not be able to move quickly through the Cardinals minor league system when he arrives. Let’s just hope that he is able to arrive next year.