Trey Harris is on the rise.
Drafted in the 32nd round of the 2018 MLB Draft from the University of Missouri — one year after a collegiate summer ball season with the Sedalia Bombers — Harris has since advanced to play for three teams during his second season of professional baseball in the Atlanta Braves organization.
Harris has four hits in as many games since his July 18 promotion to Double-A Mississippi and, through 500 professional at-bats, is batting .328 with 13 home runs, 38 doubles and an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .911.
“So far, so good,” Harris said.
Harris started the season in Class A Rome, about one hour away from his hometown Powder Springs, Georgia. He improved his defense in the confines of State Mutual Stadium and flirted with a .400 batting average in 56 games — many of which he performed before family and friends.
“It was nice to play in front of my mom and dad,” Harris said. “A lot of my close friends and family were able to come to games and that was the best part, playing in front of people who have been watching me since I was 10 years old.”
Currently, Harris’ only video highlight on the MiLB.com website is a diving catch. Almost unrecognizable given his slimmed-down physique and the resolution of the minor-league webcast, Harris — after extending for a catch like a wide receiver in the end zone — pumped his fist with a passion familiar to Sedalia Bombers fans who watched in 2017.
A first baseman, designated hitter and right fielder with the Sedalia Bombers, the Braves had Harris learn angles in left field and played him exclusively in corner outfield positions. He said his defense improved so much that it was his best-graded tool among Lo-A competition, and credited a focused approach to practice to his development.
“Just understanding how to use your first step and just taking the reps during batting practice,” Harris said of improving his defensive reads. “Chase every ball you possibly can so you can understand what you can get to. Just have the intent to practice the right way, for just 10 minutes. It doesn’t have to be an hour. Start with an intense 10 minutes, and go from there.”
Harris was promoted June 4 to the Hi-A Florida Fire Frogs, where he played 34 games in a little more than a month and batted .303 with four home runs — three of which came in consecutive games. Promoted after a July 17 victory over the Palm Beach Cardinals, Harris called his parents, caught a flight from Atlanta, Georgia to Jackson, Mississippi and made his Double-A debut in a July 18 win hosting the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.
In his first full season of professional baseball, Harris has remained easygoing and charismatic as in adjusting to the minor-league grind.
“I just feel like if you put out positive vibes positive vibes come back to you,” Harris said. “You never know how you're going to inspire somebody, so just smiling everyday in one of the world’s hardest sports, it just shows that on your toughest days there’s no reason not to smile.”
Harris has also adjusted physically to the long season.
“Understanding your body,” Harris said. “For me, I like to take a lot of swings. When you’re in game 90, you have to make an adjustment, you can't take 1,000 swings everyday. You have to do what feels exactly right and keep moving.”
According to the MLB.com Prospect Watch, 11 of the Braves’ top 30 prospects play with Harris on the Mississippi Braves, including second-rounders Drew Waters, Greyson Jenista and No. 1 prospect Christian Pache — all of which are listed as outfielders.
Harris said he is learning from his high-pedigree peers, especially highly-touted starting pitchers like Kyle Muller, Ian Anderson, Joey Wentz and Tucker Davidson.
“I get to see firsthand what makes them a top prospect,” Harris said. “Every starter in our rotation, The way they go about just attacking hitters, they’re just trying to get you in and out. Their business-like approach really rubs off on everyone.”
Creeping up to No. 26 on the prospect list, Harris said he likes his chances at the big show. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be playing.
“If I can perform here, I’m a couple tweaks away,” Harris said. “I think you have to believe, because if you’re not sure, the minor leagues will eat you up.”
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2.