Angels Sign Monte Harrison To Minors Deal

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The Angels have signed Monte Harrison to a minor league deal, according to his transactions tracker at MLB.com. He had been released by the Marlins last month.

Harrison was a second round pick of the Brewers in 2014 and impressed prospect evaluators in his first few seasons in the minors. Baseball America ranked him the 75th best prospect in baseball in 2018, around the same time that Harrison was included in the blockbuster trade that sent Christian Yelich from the Marlins to the Brewers.

Unfortunately, Harrison struggled as he reached higher levels of competition. In 2019, he cracked Triple-A for the first time, putting up a respectable line of .274/.357/.451, though that came with a worrisome strikeout rate of 29.9%. In 2020, with the minor leagues cancelled, Harrison made it to the big leagues and got into 32 games in the shortened season. His line of .170/.235/.255 and 51% strikeout rate showed that he clearly needed some more seasoning, leading to another year primarily spent in the minors. In 2021, he played 74 Triple-A games and hit .242/.331/.446. Despite a wRC+ of 108, strikeouts were a problem again, as he was K’d in 39.3% of his plate appearances.

Having exhausted his option years, the Marlins finally gave up on Harrison and designated him for assignment last month, eventually releasing him. For the Angels, there’s no harm in taking a flier on Harrison to see if he can right the ship. He’s only 26 years old and at least offers speed, having stolen more than 20 bases in the minors in each of the past four seasons in which they were played. He’s also been praised for his elite center field defense, a rare skill that means he wouldn’t need to be an excellent hitter to be valuable. If he can cut down on the strikeouts and earn his way back onto the big league roster, he has less than a year of MLB service time, meaning the Angels would have to ability to keep him around for years to come.

The club is currently heading into the season with Mike Trout, Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh slated to be their regular outfielders, though all three of those come with question marks. Trout only played 36 games last year due to a calf injury, making his future uncertain. Even if he can have better health this year, the Angels will likely give him occasional breathers in order to not push him too hard. As for Marsh and Adell, they each have less than 80 games of big league experience and haven’t truly established themselves just yet. In the event of injuries or underperformance, Harrison could have a path back to the big leagues.

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