Don Mattingly talks about what needs to be changed
Monte Harrison, the Miami Marlins’ No. 3 overall prospect, had a slow start to the 2019 season with the Triple A New Orleans Baby Cakes.
He missed the first seven games of the season tending to a wrist injury sustained near the end of spring training and then went hitless with four strikeouts in his first two starts.
Since then, though, Harrison has been on a tear and has showcased what he can do at the plate when he’s at his best.
Starting with the second game of a doubleheader on April 13, the 23-year-old outfielder is hitting .441 (15 for 34) with a pair of home runs, seven RBI and three stolen bases. He has recorded at least one hit in eight his past nine games and has six multihit performances.
The highlight came Sunday when Harrison went 3 for 3 and added a pair of walks for a perfect night at the plate as the Baby Cakes routed the Omaha Potholes 10-0.
But perhaps even more impressive than his ability to put balls in play early this season — Harrison’s 1.068 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) ranks 17th in the Pacific Coast League — is how he is beginning to limit his strikeout rate.
Through 11 games, Harrison has struck out 13 times in 49 plate appearances, a 26.5 percent rate. Last season in Double A Jacksonville, Harrison struck out 36.9 percent of the time.
“Monte is a guy who obviously is making strides,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Sunday. “He’s really getting a chance to develop now at the next level.”
But even with Harrison’s early success and the Marlins having what feels like a revolving door in the outfield at the major-league level, don’t expect him to get a call-up just yet. Mattingly and the Marlins don’t want to rush him up and risk him falling into a slump.
“Allowing him to develop is the key, long-term,” Mattingly said. “With not just him, but all the guys. It’s not trying to bring him [up] too early because you have a need, instead of letting the guy develop, so he’s ready to compete when he gets here, so he doesn’t get beat up and go back.”
More prospect performances to note
▪ Second baseman Isan Diaz, Triple A New Orleans: Diaz, the Marlins’ No. 6 prospect known for his defense, had his first multihit game of the season on Sunday, going 3 for 5 with a double. Diaz has hits in 11 of 16 games, including a pair of home runs.
▪ Starting pitcher Zach Gallen, Triple A New Orleans: Gallen once again impressed in his latest start, giving up just two hits in 5 2/3 shutout innings while striking out six and walking just one. Through three starts, the Marlins’ No. 18 prospect has a 0.48 ERA through 18 2/3 innings with 25 strikeouts and just one walk.
▪ Outfielder Brian Miller, Double A Jacksonville: Miller, the Marlins’ No. 13 prospect, is on a four-game hitting streak and has bumped his batting average up to .274. He was a home run away from the cycle on Saturday in a 12-7 loss to the Biloxi Shockers. Miller had a 5-for-5 night in that game with two RBI and a pair of runs.
▪ Outfielder Magneuris Sierra, Double A Jacksonville: Sierra extended his hitting streak to 14 games and is now hitting .333 (20 for 60) with four doubles, five walks and just nine strikeouts.
▪ Shortstop Jose Devers, Advanced A Jupiter: Devers, the Marlins’ No. 12 prospect, is hitting a team-best .326 and is riding a five-game hit streak.
▪ Outfielder Jerar Encarnacion, Class A Clinton, Iowa: Encarnacion continues his torrid start to the season at the plate, hitting .403 with five home runs, 17 RBI and 11 runs over 15 games.