Blue Jays pitcher Jonathan Harris has a bright future

Dunedin, Fla. - Toronto Blue Jays 1st round pick Jonathan Harris at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Braydon Holymard
Dunedin, Fla. - Toronto Blue Jays 1st round pick Jonathan Harris at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Braydon Holymard /

The 2015 1st Round Pick is poised to show the organization what he learned in college after he declined a contract when they initially drafted him three years earlier.

Jonathan Harris came to spring training bigger, stronger, and confident that last years struggles are behind him.

After a long and emotional senior season at Missouri State University, Harris joined the Class-A Vancouver Canadians for the tail end of 2015.

While his strong character would never allow him to admit it, fatigue most certainly factored into his 21 walks and 6.75 ERA in 36 innings in Vancouver.

He carried the MSU Bears to a school record-setting season and an NCAA Super Regionals playoff birth.

After 103 innings of college ball and a tough loss to Arkansas in the College World Series Round of 16, Harris’ dominance did not translate to the professional level in late June. He knows that, and has been doing everything he can to get off to a strong start in his first full season in the Blue Jays organization.

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“The tools I had at school didn’t work quite as well as I had hoped going in here,” Harris said after practice at the Blue Jays minor-league spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida. “Right now I’m still using the tools that I have, but in a different way to try and improve my game.”

Harris knows that he has the stuff to be successful at this level and has worked with Blue Jays pitching coaches this spring on fine tuning things.

“I try and stay in the game plan that I have, but with the little quirks here that they’re trying to fix,” he said. “The mechanical changes, like moving from the first-base side of the rubber to the third-base side of the rubber.”

There are lots of “little quirks” for a young pitcher to figure out along the way. Not only does Harris have the 6-foot-4 frame and mid-90’s fastball, but he has the intelligence to put it all together.

Despite his struggles out West, he still managed to strike out eight batters per nine innings, something positive to take with him into the new season — and an important season at that. Harris made an investment in himself a few years ago and it paid off when he became the 29th overall selection. He is eager to show what he’s all about this year, regardless of where he finds himself playing.

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It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Harris make his way up the system rather quickly. With his sinking fastball to lean on, and the further development of his breaking ball and changeup, who’s to say he can’t bring the 10.14 K/9 he had in his senior year to the Blue Jays?

While he has trained hard to build on his previously thin frame, he understands there is still plenty more to do, and that if he puts in the work, he has the talent to play himself into the Blue Jays future plans.

“All throughout high school and college I heard the word projectability, projectability, projectability, because I was six foot, 160 pounds and I got out as 6’4”, 190,” Harris said. “There’s still lots of work to be done on my frame, but it’s going to be interesting the next year or so, to try and see what’s going to happen.”