Here’s an excerpt from a real conversation I had with my sister last week:
Her: “Hey, have you ever seen Monty Python? You would like it.”
Me: “Is that the one where those guys get naked for child support money?”
Her: “No… that’s The Full Monty. Monty Python was about the Knights of the Round Table. Camelot. The Holy Grail.”
Me: “Ohh. Right. Well, I saw Spamelot live once at a theater. Does that count?”
It didn’t count. And besides possibly eliminating all remaining faith our readers might have had in my level of intelligence, this conversation provides an excellent segue into one of this week’s more interesting prospect call-ups: Miami Marlins outfielder Monte Harrison. Back on Monday, Grey wrote about Harrison in the lede for his weekend roundup, urging you to add him in every league “for some power and great speed, though he might hit .210.” I’m with Grey and have already added one Harrison share, but as I was doing so, I began digging a bit deeper into one of baseball’s more imposing and polarizing prospects. As a result, I present to you the findings from my report, The Full Monte, fully undressed and free of bias.
What we have with Harrison mirrors a lot of what baseball has become in the year 2020: an all-or-nothing approach featuring a plethora of power mixed with heavy strikeouts, as well as an innate ability to bring idiocy and self-serving bias to the forefront. If you read my stuff, you know I prefer to let the underlying metrics and bottom-line numbers do the talking, but I also like to sprinkle in a bit of personal scouting and intuition for some extra flavor. But even someone like me can’t entirely ignore something like this:
From last night : Marlins OF Monte’ Harrison appears to go to the plate to bat lefty (he is right handed). ?@cakesbaseball? Mgr. Keith Johnson sees it, pulls him. Harrison visibly upset. Marlins say this has been addressed. pic.twitter.com/nppPtiATnm
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) June 28, 2019
This incident was just last season, slightly over one year ago. It’s not fair to judge a young player by one moment of immaturity, but for a player like Harrison who struggles with strikeouts and will need to rely on steady adjustments and work ethic to excel consistently as a professional, it’s concerning. Especially considering this lapse in judgment occurred in the ninth inning in a tie ballgame — you have to wonder just what he was thinking at that moment in time. I mean, come on Monte. You have a career 30.8 K% from the right-handed side of the plate, your natural side, across six years in the Minor Leagues. Don’t just strip naked and expose yourself outright, give a little tease first — that’s how it’s supposed to work.
But I’m a Monte believer, so let’s start with why you should be scooping him up. This is a player with a lot of upside; someone previously ranked as a top 100 prospect and a former second round MLB Draft pick. He’s developing into precisely what the Marlins thought Lewis Brinson was going to be when they acquired both players as part of the deal for Christian Yelich: a speedy, athletic outfielder with the ability to go 20/20 and be an elite everyday defender (55-glove, 70-arm). As Grey alluded to in his lede, Harrison batted .274/.357/.451 with nine homers and 20 stolen bases in 56 Triple-A games last year. That came with a 10.2 BB% and 29.9 K%. Oof — those Ks.
Now, if you know anything about Harrison, the strikeouts are going to be there. He’s likely going to post a strikeout rate somewhere from 25-32% in the Majors and he’s going to have at bats where he looks absolutely lost, providing noncompetitive swings like this:
And sequences where he looks absolutely incapable of hitting MLB pitching throughout an entire at bat like this:
What a three pitch K from Chris Martin.
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) July 22, 2020
We already saw a little glimpse of this on Aug. 4, when he went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in his Major League debut. But here’s the thing about his lofty K-rate from 2019: that 29.9 K% was actually an improvement, as Harrison struck out 36.9% of plate appearances during his 136-game campaign at Double-A in 2018. He still managed to swat 19 long balls and swipe 28 bags that season, but also finished with a .240/.316/.399 slash. Harrison produced that with a 7.5 BB%, so if he actually proves to be more of the 10.2 BB% player we saw in 2019, his floor in OBP leagues could be much higher than many ‘perts’ think.
In 2017, when Harrison slashed .272/.350/.481 with 21 homers and 23 steals at Single-A and High-A, he struck out 27.1% of plate appearances and walked 8.4% of the time. Even with the awful 41.8 K% he posted in Single-A back in 2015 taken into account, I think the 2017 version of Monte is more in line with what we can expect him to be early on in his MLB career. Harrison was a teenager to start 2015 and will be just a few days from his 25th birthday by the time this article drops. He has improved his approach since then and I have to believe he would have even cut down on his 29.9 Triple-A K% with added development at the same level in 2020.
Plus, with 55-raw power and 61 Minor League home runs, you’ll take the whiffs if Harrison does this often enough:
— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) July 9, 2020
Like most players of this prototype, the swing looks as beautiful as any when it all comes together.
Another monster night for Monte Harrison:
In 520 Minor League games, Harrison’s 61 career homers and 138 stolen bases equate to 19 home runs and 42 stolen bases over the course of a 162-game season. When the Marlins resumed play on Tuesday night, 51 games remained on their regular season schedule. That translates to pro-rated totals of six home runs and 13 steals from Harrison in 2020, but I think he can provide even more power than that, but slightly fewer SBs as he adjusts to the MLB game and runs against more complete arms. If you’re skeptical, take a second and whip out your encyclopedia. See: Manfred, Rob and Ahmed, Nick. The latter hit 19 home runs in 158 games last year with the modern balls, and I don’t think anyone would argue that Ahmed has anywhere close to as much in-game power as Harrison. Speaking of modern balls, how about this Full Monte?
In the end, it all comes down to the AVG/OBP component, depending on the rules of your league. Will Harrison be able to put enough balls in play to not kill you in either category? As Grey stated, “he might hit .210.” It’s true. he certainly could hit .210 — and he certainly hasn’t looked great out of the gate. But my bet is he hits closer to .230-.240 with a walk rate around 7-9%. If he does that, he’s a must-own in OBP leagues and a hedge-fund investment in AVG leagues. It all depends how your team is composed at present, where you’re really lacking and whether you can afford to give up a few ticks in AVG or OBP.
That being said, I’m projecting eight homers and 10 steals to go with a .234 average and a .318 OBP — with room for more, although the ugly floor does taint the upside a tad (pun not intended). If you decide to scoop him up and happen to get The Full Monte, you’ll be treated to a show well worth your investment, and you won’t even have to watch middle-aged men take their clothes off. Even in 2020, that’s something we can all get behind.