Harris Swinging a Hot Bat

Harris has come up big with the bat lately

It was a slow start to the summer for 2009 14th Round Pick R.J. Harris, but his season took off once he found his comfort level. Now, Harris is in the midst of a hot streak which has provided a jolt to the K-Mets offense. Inside Pitch caught up with the Kingsport outfielder to find out more about his rookie season.

“I’m just taking it day by day. It’s pretty fun playing baseball day in, day out which is what I was hoping to do. I’m enjoying thus far,” said R.J. Harris about the first 32 games of his professional career in Kingsport.

Harris, selected in the 14th round in the most recent draft, has so far been a pivotal piece to the Kingsport offense which ranks second in the Appalachian League in total runs scored.

He got off to a relatively slow start but is hitting .410 over his last ten games including three home runs, a stretch which comes on the heels of his 14 RBI in July. That production is an example of consistency for a player who acknowledged the professional schedule can be challenging for a rookie.

”Going out there every day is sometimes the biggest challenge. Sometimes you’re more motivated than others, some days you just feel sluggish,” said Harris.

”But the main thing is trying to manage your time because when you get home you’re either tired or you’re still very much up and you end up having a late night and then you don’t get enough rest which goes onto the next day.”

Getting his time management correct has not shown any effects on the field where Harris continues to improve, specifically when it comes to doing the little things right. Learning those details, he believes, will allow him to get the most out of his first season.

” I don’t think much has really changed about the game, but it hasn’t taken me long to see that the little things count a lot more,” he said. “The more the season went on. I realized how important things like moving runners over, or taking the extra base or getting a guy home with less than two outs are because here the games are much closer when in college we were usually playing in blowouts.”

As for Harris’ plan at the plate, he is trying to keep things simple. In the opening two weeks of the season, he found himself struggling to maintain his swing as he faced next level pitching but regrouped when he let the game come to him and did not try to do too much.

”The pitching is a lot better than what I was used to coming out of a small college. I’m seeing more guys throwing in 90s but as the season’s gone on, I’ve become more adjusted to it,” he explained.

”I’ve been slowing myself down at the plate, taking a deep breath and let the talent take over. But the pitching is good here coming out of rookie ball, and I’m just trying to improve each and every day so I can move up and see better pitching.”

That slight adjustment has paid off as Harris has become a weapon both at the plate and on the bases. His .399 on-base percentage and ten stolen bases speak to the most dynamic part of his game—hitting his way on base and then making something out of it and he attributes it all to his proactive approach.

”The way I’ve been hitting feels real good because it shows that the hard work is paying off. I’ve been getting to the field early to get some extra reps in the cage before BP and I’ll take some more swings after BP and I think it’s paying off,” he detailed.

”Sometimes you get hard-headed with yourself and you don’t feel like listening to people, or your coaches, but I’ve put my trust in them because they’ve been around this game for a long time. I’m just soaking in everything like a sponge and so far it’s been successful,” he added.

As for the rest of the summer, Harris possesses fairly modest goals as he seeks to continue his recent performance.

” I’m just hoping that I get through this summer without any injuries, get my reps, do good things and hopefully get an invite to Instructs and keep playing good ball. That’s all I’m hoping for,” he closed.

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