(Statistics as of 9/30/08)Harrison is someone who has good potential but will likely need another year or two before he's a viable fantasy option - but you shouldn't ignore him. The Rangers netted Harrison in their 2007 deadline deal that shipped Mark Teixeira to Atlanta. Texas also picked up Neftali Feliz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus and Beau Jones for Teixeira and Ron Mahay. Harrison split 2008 between Double- and Triple-A (6-3, 3.40 ERA in 15 starts) and Texas, where he went 9-3, 5.39 in 15 starts. I scout these pitchers personally, recording their velocity, pitch selection and motions by watching their games. I use the standard 20-80 scouting scale to rate pitchers. These velocities are suggestive and not determinant of a pitch's rating. For example, a 75 MPH curveball might rank as a 60 because of its movement and/or deception. Please feel free to post your thoughts below on the pitcher or the column. 80 Outstanding (96+ MPH fastball, 88+ MPH slider, 82 MPH curveball)
Rating: %Thrown: Fastball 60 60 Curveball 55 10 Slider 50 10 Changeup 60 20 Control 55 Delivery 60 Composure 50Harrison throws a four-seam fastball ranges from 91-94 MPH and touches 95, and has an 88-90 MPH two-seamer. The Rangers seem to be preaching him to keep the ball down and work his cutter for grounders. Harrison's four-seamer doesn't play up to its velocity because it doesn't move much. His two-seamer has some movement, but it's not Tim Hudson's. Harrison has a nice change-up that varies from 76-84 MPH. He is most effective when pitches it to contact, as opposed to using it for a strikeout pitch. Sometimes his change has the necessary late movement and deception to miss bats, but more often it's a good change of pace from his fastball. Harrison does tip his change-up now and then by slowing his arm speed. Harrison has two breaking balls - a 75-81 MPH curveball and an 83-86 MPH slider. Working these two decent pitches into his game is his biggest weakness at this point. Harrison goes through stretches where he doesn't command or trust his slider despite its good velocity. He has a better idea of where his curveball is going, but could mix it in more effectively. Harrison has a simple and sound high three-quarters delivery and does a good job of pitching downhill. He has the kind of repertoire that tends toward fly balls, but is doing a good job to address that so far in his career, with G/F ratios of 1.00 or above in 2008 at Double-A, Triple-A and the majors. While he is big, he isn't overly athletic, so his stuff isn't likely to improve. He came through the majors with a reputation of a feel for pitching, but I see a lot of room for improvement there. Harrison was wildly inconsistent in 2008 for the Rangers, allowing four or more runs in eight starts and two or less in six starts. He threw eight scoreless innings on August 16 and shut out the A's on September 12th, but was also bombed several times. It's hard to be optimistic about Harrison's major league ERA in 2009. He didn't have a full year of Triple-A, plays in a hitter's park and will have one of the majors' best young offenses behind him. He'll win and lose some 8-6 games. All he really has to do is stay healthy, throw strikes and learn the league. The Rangers have a good crop of young pitchers with Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, Kasey Kiker, Michael Main,and Brandon McCarthy, so Harrison will have some help as he tries to lead the Rangers to contention. ---------------- In two weeks: NL West: Clayton Kershaw After the Kershaw column, I'll be taking a couple of months off before resuming in January.
Article first appeared 10/27/08