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Charting Vancouver Canadians’ Jon Harris

Last Wednesday Toronto’s 2015 first round draft pick, Jon Harris took to the hill versus the Tri-City Dust Devils, and unbelievably, I was actually able to make it.  For this game, Harris was the front half of a piggy-backing combo with recent Bluefield call-up Angel Perdomo.

This would be the second act of the Harris/Perdomo show and given how good they were their first time out:

Harris – 5 IPs, 4 Hits, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks

Perdomo – 4 IPs, 0 Hits, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks

I had high hopes, despite the fact I would need treatment for sunstroke after the game.  Needless to say, after one good inning, those hopes were soon dashed.

Wednesday was Harris’ 10th start (11th appearance) for the C’s but, as regular readers are aware, through ill-fortune, it was my first chance to see him.  Speaking to Vancouver manager John Schneider after Monday’s game about some of the struggles Jon has undergone, amongst other things, he said the prevailing strategy is not to mess with Missouri native’s mechanics this season.  After 103 innings for Missouri State, let him pitch before looking to make any adjustments at instructs or spring training.

For that reason I’m going to be lazy and just link this excellent scouting report from fangraphs which breaks down Harris’ mechanics far better than I could.

If you don’t want to read the piece in its entirety — a mistake in my view — the coles notes are thus:

Harris flashes solid average to a bit above average with his four pitch mix of a low 90s fastball, slider, curve and change.

With similar grades across the board you wouldn’t expect the final assessment to be that different as Krause gives him a 50 future value, saying:

If he continues to pound the strike zone and demonstrate the same above-average ability to command his four pitch mix, Harris has a good shot to be a 3rd/4th starter at maturity.

Most reports you read seem to agree with this, so, as far as college pitchers are concerned, this pick is more Deck McGuire than Jeff Hoffman (which is stating the obvious given difference in where they were picked).  While the numbers in Vancouver haven’t been particularly pretty we may have been getting ahead of ourselves if expecting him to dominate.

And now I’m just rambling a bit for filler as he only ended up pitching two innings!

I’ve added the pitch count by inning to the table below as am guessing — I was unable to discuss with pitching coach Jim Czajkowski post-game — it was the 32 pitch ‘high stress’ second which cut Harris’ outing short.

Running Pitch Count FBs Sliders Change Total FBs Sliders Change
0 0 0 0
Totals 43 29 11 3 1st 11 7 3 1
Strikes 27 Min 91 77 84 2nd 32 22 8 2
Balls 16 Max 95 88 87 3rd 0 0 0 0
Avg Velo 92 81 86 4th 0 0 0 0


If I had only the first inning to go by I wouldn’t have much of a sample size.  But also would see, very clearly, why the Jays took Jon with the 29th overall pick.  His fastball sat at 92mph with excellent arm-side run.  Tailing into and producing weak contact from both the right-handed hitters he faced.

I hadn’t set up my sheet to handle two types of breaking balls so unfortunately everything is under the slider umbrella.  Am pretty sure the 77 mph one was a curveball though.  As far as the sliders were concerned, he seemed to throw two of those, one with less tilt and depth that he was dropping in for a strike before trying to finish hitters off with the sharper breaking one.

Given the length of the outing it was hard to get a full read on the pitch but I was impressed.  All of them had sharp, late break.  He was also confident enough in the pitch to use it during his first full count.

I couldn’t see much difference in either arm speed or slot but is something I’ll look closer at next time.

In the second, and this was the frustrating part for me, I couldn’t see anything change as far as mechanics are concerned.  His fastball definitely flattened out, with no arm-side run to speak of.  At 92mph if a fastball moves like a 4-seamer rather than a two then it’s going to get hit.  And he started to miss his spots.  Not by much, as two of the three hits allowed were jam-shot flares, but enough to give the Dust Devils better looks.

All my notes from the inning were positive on the secondary offerings so it was really just an issue of fastball command.

The Dust-Devils hitters lead the Northwest League in OBP so are a difficult out but we’re talking about a 21 year old first round draft pick — which may contradict what I said previously.  All in, it was a disappointing outing.

With less than two weeks left in the regular season, and the C’s within shouting distance of the second half flag, I can see Harris making his last three starts of 2015 in Vancouver.  If they fall short then it’s possible Lansing does see him for the playoffs but he’d then he’d probably be running into innings limits.  Should be interesting.

(Update: Harris made his first start since I charted him last night versus Boise and was rocked for 10 runs — 8 earned — over 2 and a third innings.  He’s now at 36 pro innings and near 140 for the year.  If the C’s fall any further out of the race come his next turn, I think you’d have to serious consider shutting him down for the season)

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