I write a lot about Mitch Harris, but that’s just because I think it is a great story and he usually pops up around this time of the year. The Cardinals drafted Harris in the 13th round of the 2008 draft knowing full well he was committed to the Navy and their required 5-year service term. Four of those five years have passed and Mitch Harris is finally making his way to Spring Training, but will he stick or he have to serve another year? Let’s take a look at the latest news after the jump.
Mitch Harris will be on a two month break from his deployment starting on March 23rd, which coinicides perfectly with the end of Spring Training. When the team heads north, Harris will undoubtedly stay in town and work in Extended Spring Training and will most likely not see any actual game action.
Harris has twice submitted requests to serve the rest of his service in the Navy Reserves while playing baseball for the Cardinals and doing outreach for the Navy. They used to let athletes out of their five year commitment two years early to the Reserves due to their higher than normal profile. However, the rule changed and Mitch Harris is taking the brunt of that ruling. The Cardinals hoped they had done enough lobbying last year to get Harris out of his required service, but that fell through.
It is still up in the air whether he would be able to continue the full season with the Cardinals, but seeing how all his previous requests have been denied or delayed, he probably does not have his hopes up.
Harris was drafted after college at twenty-two years old and is already twenty-six and could potentially be another year older before he even gets back to professional baseball. He will have certainly missed his chance at being a top prospect in the Cardinals organization. But with the Cardinals more than happy to wait for him, he still will have a chance at becoming a major leaguer and will continue to be a great story along the way.
The good news for the Cardinals is that without his Navy committment, Harris has around a 5th round grade in 2008. Per Kary Booher of the Springfield News-Leader, “Baseball America’s 2008 pre-draft scouting report described him as consistently throwing a low-90s fastball and that he has plus command of three pitches — fastball, slider and change-up.”
It will be interesting to see what the Cardinals have in Harris when he shows up later this month and when he can begin his Cardinals career in earnest.