A Blog of Toronto Blue Jays Prospects Interviews, Evaluations and News

RHP Jon Harris Expects To Find Consistency

Jon Harris Prepared for Full Season Workload

RHP Jon Harris Expects To Find Consistency

April 7, 2016

Jon Harris

RHP Jon Harris was selected as the Blue Jays 1st round choice at 29th overall in the 2015 Amateur Draft. (Vancouver Sun)

Making the jump from amateur baseball to the professional game can be one of the toughest transitions a young player can endure. These challenges do not discriminate based on skill level, often requiring even advanced players to make adjustments. Evan highly touted prospects are often forced to make improvements to their skill set to find continued success.

Understanding this concept first-hand right-handed pitching prospect Jon Harris has reported to the Lansing Lugnuts hoping to build off the skills he learned last fall in the Blue Jays Instructional League camp in Dunedin, Florida.

The coaching staff at instructs liked what they saw from the 2015 1st round selection. While, the coaches were impressed with the talent that Harris processes, they quickly noticed a few areas where they felt the righty could improve for better results moving forward.

“I was mostly working on mechanical stuff in the Instructional League,” explained Harris. “I was working on a more direct motion towards home plate. The coaches also helped me with my command a little bit. But the biggest difference was moving from the first base side of the rubber to the third base side. All of the coaches liked my mechanics as they felt I had nice fluid motion. They just wanted to tweak a few things to get me into a better rhythm.”

These changes should help the 22-year old compete better than he did last season in the Northwest League. Struggling a bit with command as a member of the Vancouver Canadians, Harris walked 21 batters in 36 innings pitched.

While a 1.96 WHIP wasn’t the way Harris wanted to start his professional career he understands what he needs to do to be successful this season.

“I just want to be consistent this year,” said Harris. “I’m currently on a pitch count. I’m planning on using every pitch to my advantage. Only getting so many pitches, I’m going to do my best to go as deep into games as possible. I’m going to pitch to contact so I can get as many outs as possible with the fewest pitches possible.”

Seeing himself as more of a strikeout pitcher than a ground ball guy, Harris fanned 32 hitters last summer in his first stint in professional baseball. His ability to strikeout batters earned Harris an impressive 8.0 K/9 ratio in Vancouver.

His capability to strikeout the opposition should transition well in Lansing. Unlike most pitchers at the professional ranks, Harris isn’t traditionally a ground ball guy, but a pitcher that likes to challenge hitters with his heater.

“When it comes to my fastball I basically show it to the hitters and say hit it,” stated Harris. “I’m a fly ball pitcher. I get the majority of my outs via fly balls, or strikeouts. Every once in a while I’ll get a ground ball, but I mostly strive to just keep the ball in the yard. As long as it does I’m happy.”

Another area that should help Harris in 2016 is the fact that he fine-tuned his secondary pitches this past winter for better results. While, he doesn’t feel he’s changed too much since leaving college. Harris feels he improved enough in the right areas to have better outcomes this time around.

“My off-speed pitches are developing well,” explained Harris. “I changed the grip on my changeup during the instructional league and I continued to work on it this spring. My breaking balls are a little bit harder and sharper. I’m doing a better job at keeping them down in the zone. I feel they’re pretty similar to how they were at school. But the move to the third base side has made it a lot easier as it’s putting less stress on my body. The motion is a lot smoother and that’s all I can ask for as a pitcher.”

Currently at the beginning stages of his first full season, Harris has no illusions at how much conditioning it’ll take for him to keep his body in tip-top shape this season. Although this can be challenging for most young prospects, Harris has complete faith in the coaching staff in the Blue Jays system to keep him on top of his game.

“There will be a difference in my conditioning this season compared to last year,” stated Harris. “Last year my professional season went from June to September. This year I started in February and have to make it to September.”

“I feel I’ll be prepared well for the challenge, Harris added. “We have a great coaching and conditioning staff here that will help me stay healthy all year. Whether it’s cold like it is right now, or hot like it will be in June and July I’ll be totally prepared for the conditions. If we take care of our bodies we’ll be prepared for every opportunity and we’ll have a successful season.”

Looking forward to the challenges of playing on a full season club this year. Harris is excited that he was assigned to the Blue Jays’ Midwest League affiliate. Growing up in Missouri, the righty was thrilled to find out he was playing close to home which makes it easier for his parents to follow his campaign.

“Playing in the Midwest League is nice, because I’m able to play close to home,” said Harris. “I was fortunate enough to have my parents come down to spring training in Florida. It’ll be nice being closer to them this season.”

Toronto Blue Jays fans are equally excited to see the organization’s 4th highest ranked prospect ready to take flight in Lansing with hopes of making it to the Rogers Centre in the near future.

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Brian has covered professional baseball for eight seasons for numerous media outlets.
Brian Crawford