Harris happy to be drafted by Blue Jays again
TORONTO -- The second time is the charm when it comes to the Blue Jays and their top Draft pick Jon Harris.
Toronto originally selected Harris in the 33rd round back in 2012, but instead of signing, the right-handed starter honored his commitment to Missouri State. He was relatively unknown in those days, but the same can't be said now.
Harris grew four inches since that original Draft year and was the fourth-best pitching prospect available on Monday night, according to MLBPipeline.com. In a lot of ways, he doesn't even resemble the pitcher who fell into the second half of the Draft in 2012.
"I was 6-foot, 160 pounds coming out of high school, and I knew I wasn't that high quality of a guy, like I was this year," Harris said. "Once I got the call from Toronto saying the 33rd round, I knew my heart was set on going to Missouri State.
"I had fallen in love with the school, the coaches, the history that the school brought. It was a tough decision, but I felt like Missouri State was the place for me in order to get better and get where I am now today with the 29th overall pick to Toronto again."
Harris is coming off a year with Missouri State in which he posted an 8-2 record with a 2.45 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 103 innings. He sits around 92 mph with his fastball, but he has the ability to touch 96 mph, and he also possesses a curveball, a slider and a changeup.
There was some speculation that Harris would go in the first half of Round 1, but he was still available when the Blue Jays selected at No. 29. That wasn't something the club expected, but with a large pool of scouts to work from, the organization had someone at each of his starts late in the year just in case.
The Blue Jays also had the advantage of following Harris for the past three years. Harris might be a different pitcher now than he was then, but considering how everything unfolded, it's interesting that he ended up with Toronto after all.
"We already had a little bit of history with the kid and he knew us," Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Brian Parker said. "Our scout [Dallas Black], when he went to meet with him this fall, [Harris] was wearing a Blue Jays hat in his individual meeting with the player. It always helps to have more information, and that certainly helped."
In addition to the noticeable physical gains, Harris stressed during a conference call with reporters that he's ironed out other aspects of his game as well. The 21-year-old worked out some of the kinks in his delivery while at Missouri State, and scouts believe he has plus command to both sides of the plate.
The 29th overall selection comes with a recommended slot value of $1,944,800. Whenever pitchers turn down a professional contract, there's always a risk that another one won't surface, but in this case, the move paid off for Harris -- and he couldn't be happier about the way things turned out.
"It was an amazing experience," Harris said of his Draft night. "I heard my name called [and] I broke down into tears, because it's one of those childhood dreams that every kid has, and I'm able to continue fulfilling that dream in the Toronto organization. It's a blessing in disguise to be drafted by them again and having the confidence that they had in 2012 as they do in '15.
"For me, [I want] to help the organization, improve the organization. And they see something in me that can do that. It's just a blessing, and I thank my parents and all of my couches and everyone who has helped me in this journey to where I am now."