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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Braves call on top prospect Harris to boost outfield defense

ATLANTA ( Associated Press) — The Atlanta Braves, looking to upgrade their outfield defense, called on top prospect Michael Harris from Double-A Mississippi on Saturday.

The 21-year-old Harris is starting in the middle zone and finishing ninth against the Miami Marlins.

Harris’ joining allows the Braves to move Adam Duvall from center field to a corner position in the outfield.

Asked how Harris could help the Braves, manager Brian Snitker said, “Well, that’s just the defensive part of it.”

“If we don’t think he can help us come up and win the game, we won’t bring him,” Snitkar said. “I mean, we’re trying to win the game.”

Harris played in Class A Rome in 2021 and has never played at the Triple-A level. Snitker is generally reluctant to take a player to the majors, but said he believes Harris is “the kind of guy who checks all the boxes.”

“Just that he’s a very impressionable kid and I enjoy watching him and being around him and getting to know him,” Snitker said. “He’s a quality kid.”

Snitkar envisioned an outfield with Ronald Acuna Jr. in right field, Harris in center field and Duvall in left field. This will allow Marcel Ozuna, who is starting in left field on Saturday, to serve as the primary designated hitter.

Acua, who is returning from knee surgery, is the designated hitter and hitting leadoff on Saturday. Acuna missed three consecutive starts due to a strained right quadriceps before coming off the bench for a pinch-hit double in Atlanta’s 6-4 win over Miami on Friday night.

“It’s going to be fun,” Harris said of the chance to play next to Acuna. “I’m really excited to see how it goes. I’m really excited to be here and to have fun with people.”

Travis Demerit, who fell 0-for-34 with a run-scoring single on Friday night, was selected for Triple-A Gwynette. Demerit was hitting .213 with three homers.

Harris (6-0, 195) is from Stockbridge High School in the Atlanta Metro. Former Braves outfielder Jason Hayward is also from Henry County. Harris says he was often compared to Hayward, now with the Chicago Cubs, as he developed into a prospect.

“As I grew up people were comparing me to him and saying that I reminded him of him,” Harris said. “It really opened my eyes and gave me a lot of confidence.”

Harris was hitting .305 in Mississippi with five homers, 33 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. He said he was informed of his promotion after Friday night’s game in Pensacola, Florida, which caused a little sleep at night and flew to Atlanta.

Harris said it was a surreal feeling to walk into the Braves clubhouse and see his name on the jersey at his locker.

“Nothing can really match the moment it is here,” he said. “You can always dream about it. But actually being here, I don’t think anything tops it.”

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More Associated Press MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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