The Milwaukee Brewers prospect holding down 21st rank is KJ Harrison.
Last years 15 ranked prospect has dropped six slots. When the Milwaukee Brewers selected him in the third round of 2017, out of Oregon State, they were not the first team to go for him. Harrison was also drafted in 2014 by the Indians out of high school.
Harrison projects as a better hitting catcher after flashing great contact ability and some pop during his time at the college level. His hitting grades out at 45, and his power and arm strength both tie for a top grade at 50.
The defense is not too far behind the top graded tools, in fact it shares a grade with hitting at 45. That is something the Brewers hope will develop more over time. Though Harrison did not catch a whole lot in college, Milwaukee is still willing to let him stay at the position. That being said, his value will always lean towards his bat.
In 48 games during his debut season in the Pioneer League, Harrison hit an impressive .308 with 10 homers. His wRC+ according to Fangraphs sat at 121. Further showing his ability to swing the bat and find a lot of success.
He’s hit well, but there is a reason he dropped in the rankings after hitting over .300. Defensively, he caught only 17 games and allowed four passed balls. The other number of concern is his 55 strikeouts in 48 games, which translates to a 25.7 percent strikeout rate.
How Does He Project?
Harrison is going to project best as a hitter, that is clear. The hope is that he will strikeout less, but that will be seen as he climbs the ranks. If he can hit with this kind of success going forward and stay at the catcher position, that would be great for the Milwaukee Brewers. But the position is not a given at this point.
This year might be very telling. Wherever he is placed, his bat will be in the lineup often. If the team intends on him catching, we should also see an uptick in starts at the position. It is possible they are just trying to get him extra work outside of live action to get him more comfortable. Harrison played only catcher last year, but was more a DH than anything.
Odds are, Harrison will be a catcher for a few more years. If he can prove to be solid enough with the glove, he will continue. If he cannot, but is still hitting the ball well, he will find a new position. Potentially he will transition into a first baseman, where the Milwaukee Brewers might have a need by the time he is ready.