More than a 5-tool player: Harris is a man of many talents

March 1st, 2023

NORTH PORT, Fla. -- It seems like everybody has a story about seeing Michael Harris II do something extraordinary with a baseball, basketball, bowling ball, golf club or even a pool cue.

“We had a little group golf outing last year,” Braves first baseman Matt Olson said. “Kirby Yates was hurt, so he wasn’t playing. But he was with the group ahead of us and he was just hanging out in his cart in the fairway. He thought he was unreachable.”

Yates obviously forgot Harris was on the tee box.

“I looked at the thing that tells you how far you are away from the tee and I was like 390 yards,” Yates said. “I’m like, 'He can’t hit it here.' So I watched him hit, and I was kind of waiting, and this ball goes rolling by me by 10 yards. I’m like, ‘You've got to be [kidding] me.'”

So the reigning National League Rookie of the Year can cover nearly four football fields with a drive and also flirt with scoring a perfect 300 in bowling. Is there anything he can’t do?

“He’s good at a lot of bar games,” Braves pitching prospect Darius Vines said. “He’s good at ping pong, and he’s really good at pool. I saw him beat [Tigers outfielder] Akil Baddoo in pool and didn’t let him get a shot. I saw him beat him like five times in a row. He kind of destroyed him.”

Long before hitting 19 homers and stealing 20 bases in last year’s great rookie season, Harris routinely goofed around with the billiards table at his childhood home. 

“Yeah, that’s one of my secret talents,” Harris said. 

What are some of the 21-year-old phenom’s other talents?

Ping pong?  “I like to get down on a ping pong table,” Harris said.

Cornhole?  “Yeah, I try to compete in that too, but it’s way harder,” Harris said.

Harris recently tweeted video of him matching the three-quarter-court shot Vines had just made as the two were playing basketball in Atlanta. His Twitter feed has also featured videos of him recording a strike while rolling a bowling ball between his legs.

Unlike Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, Harris hasn’t rolled a perfect 300 game. He says his best bowling score has been a 260. That’s pretty impressive, but Vines says the Braves outfielder is a little inconsistent on the lanes.

“He’s a good bowler, but from a consistency standpoint, pool is his sport,” Vines said. “Especially after I last saw him bowl, he didn’t live up to his hype.”

If Harris weren’t a Major Leaguer, his wish would be to be a professional golfer. He didn’t really start playing consistently until the 2020 Minor League season was erased by COVID-19. But he’s addicted to the sport, and he’s starting to show some improvements.

Harris is still consistently shooting in the low 90s, but he recently shot an 86 at Lake Spivey Golf Club in Jonesboro, Ga., about 20 miles south of Atlanta. His bid to get into the 70s will improve as his short game gets better.

“I’ve just got to work on getting my second shot on the green,” Harris said. “I have the right distance, but it either goes left or right.”

Oh, did we mention Harris golfs right-handed? The left-handed slugger was a switch-hitter on the baseball diamond until his junior year in high school. His reason for swinging golf clubs from the right side seems pretty simple.

“I would go to Topgolf a lot as a kid, and I would never hit it straight,” Harris said. “So I just stayed over there, and it was working."

Would Harris rather roll a 300 game or hit a hole-in-one?

“I think it’s harder to get a 300, but I’d be more excited with a hole-in-one,” Harris said.

There seems to be reason to believe Harris might eventually take both of these accomplishments off his to-do list. He has made so many other things look pretty easy.

“It’s just practice and trying to be a perfectionist,” Harris said.