The Braves were 22-24 when they called up center fielder Michael Harris II on May 28. A third-round pick in 2019, Harris played in Double-A ball this year and Single-A ball last year. He turned 21 in March. He's a real prospect—he played in the Futures Game last year and Baseball Prospectus had him as the 58th-best prospect in the game in their preseason rankings—but as Harris has only recently seen his first action above Single-A Ball, he was expected to help Atlanta defensively, if he was going to be able to help at all.
Don’t take my word for it. Here’s an excerpt from the Associated Press article at the time, “Atlanta Braves call up top prospect Michael Harris to boost outfield defense”:
When asked how Harris can help the Braves, manager Brian Snitker said, “Well, just the defensive part of it.”
Well, Harris has done a bit more than just help on the defensive end. Atlanta ended May with a record of 23-27, 10.5 games back of the Mets. But the Braves have not lost this month, winning 11 in a row, and are now 34-27, 5.5 games back of first and atop the wild card race. Michael Harris is hitting .296 with six RBI and nine runs scored over that stretch.
It’s even better than that, though. Per David O’Brien in The Athletic, Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer suggested Harris change his swing after his first four games, during which Harris went 2-for-13. He’s 14-for-41 since. (That story also quotes a secondhand scouting report from Braves roving instructor Greg Walker: “I’ve never said this about another player, but he reminds me of Harold Baines.” Oh, really, Harold Baines isn’t a common scouting comparison?)
While Harris played an expectedly large role in this surge, the entire Braves lineup has seemingly stirred to life at once. Even by 11-game-winning-streak standards, things are now all sunshine and rainbows. Adam Duvall’s been red-hot over the Braves 11-game win streak; he hit two homers in yesterday’s 5-3 win over the Pirates. And look how excited his teammates were!
“For one, he’s just an incredible human being,” said Kyle Wright, who improved to 7-3 with six innings of three-run ball on a day when he didn’t have his best stuff. Wright was among those who gushed when asked about Duvall, saying, “He’s a great teammate, great friend, and he’s got a ton of ability. Anytime he gets hot, he’s one of the best hitters in the game.
He’s just an incredible human being. The Braves didn’t start the season very well, but they sure look like the defending World Series champs now.