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Crew prospects glad to be on journey together

Tight-knit Harrison, Ray help motivate each other through longest pro campaign
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- Monte Harrison continued to climb up prospect lists with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, while Corey Ray searched for his professional footing. But while their seasons unfolded in opposite directions, the Brewers outfield prospects are on the path together.

A mini-documentary captured the duo's high-energy friendship during the waning days of the AFL, which capped the longest season of each player's brief professional career. Harrison finished on a high note, following his 21-homer regular season with five more home runs and a .604 slugging percentage for the Salt River Rafters, while Ray essentially matched his regular-season slash line with a .231/.302/.321 showing in the fall.

MILWAUKEE -- Monte Harrison continued to climb up prospect lists with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, while Corey Ray searched for his professional footing. But while their seasons unfolded in opposite directions, the Brewers outfield prospects are on the path together.

A mini-documentary captured the duo's high-energy friendship during the waning days of the AFL, which capped the longest season of each player's brief professional career. Harrison finished on a high note, following his 21-homer regular season with five more home runs and a .604 slugging percentage for the Salt River Rafters, while Ray essentially matched his regular-season slash line with a .231/.302/.321 showing in the fall.

"We were talking about getting to the big leagues, just joking around," said Ray, "and he goes, 'Corey, you ain't getting to the big leagues if you hit .240!'

"That's the type of relationship that we have, and it's true. I appreciate it to keep me grounded."

Video: Harrison collects two hits in Fall League action

Harrison, the Brewers' second-round Draft pick in 2014, was already in his third pro season when the Brewers picked Ray fifth overall in '16. Both players battled injuries. Harrison suffered a broken hamate bone in his left hand, forcing him to miss about half of the '16 season. Then Ray tore cartilage in his left knee during the fall instructional league and required surgery, leading to a late start in '17.

But once both players hit the field in 2017, they stayed healthy. They finished the year together, first at Class A Advanced Carolina and then in the prospect-laden AFL, where they played alongside fellow positional prospects Lucas Erceg and Jake Gatewood.

"We're all competing to get a job in the big leagues," Harrison said. "At the end of the day, if you're going to push me, I'm going to push you."

That's the idea, Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan said.

"I think it's natural for the guys to push each other," Flanagan said. "As far as pairing guys, we don't tend to look at it that way. There are so many factors as to where the individual player is best suited to play for their individual development, and to maximizing their playing time at specific positions, and we focus on trying to get those things right. But we are fortunate to have a number of talented players, and they all do a good job competing and helping to push each other along the way."

Video: Brewers prospect Corey Ray talks about his RBI double

Harrison is No. 14 on MLBPipeline.com's list of the top Brewers prospects, but he's likely due to rise with the list's next revision. Ray ranks No. 2, but he has tumbled down other publications' rankings in the wake of a .238/.311/.367 showing at Carolina, where he hit 29 doubles, four triples and seven home runs in 503 plate appearances while stealing 24 bases.

Flanagan pointed to Ray's strong finish. In his final 42 at-bats in the AFL, Ray's adjustments produced an .893 OPS.

"This season is probably the longest stretch of baseball that he has played -- starting in mid-February and playing through mid-November," Flanagan said. "And to Corey's credit, he continued to work and put in great effort all the way along."

Ray credited Harrison's help along the way.

"The thing that I like most about him is he works hard, he's humble, and he tells you how it is. That's a good person to be around," Ray said of his teammate. "The outsiders don't see the process, they just see the numbers on the field. But we know we'll be fine because of the work we put in. We're working every day, every day, every day.

"I'm excited to see where we end up. If we're in the outfield together [in the Majors] at some point, I think it will be a good outfield, but I think it will be a lot of fun."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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