A new story from Effectively Wild: A FanGraphs Baseball Podcast
Sort of advance this game even further? I think he'll advance because of the kind of player that he is and the work ethic and he asked him about the factors of why the braves invest in certain players. And I think it starts from not just the on field talent level, but also the kind of person that they're drafting developing and ultimately signing to an extension and I don't know if there's a better example of that than Michael Harris the second because as much as braise fans can get excited about these extensions, I would say there were some that were unexpected. And Harris was certainly one of those, but his emergence last year was unexpected at least from a timeline perspective, but a couple of years ago in 2020, I think Michael Harris came in and flashed some skills that get on people's radar. In 2021, he was going to be in the lower level of the miners and not really going to be a huge factor, but he got the attention that you need to have people kind of asking him, what about that Harris kid? And seeing him a little bit more in spring training in 2022 led you to believe that it could be closer as far as his emergence as a big league player. But I don't know that any of us could have expected The Rookie season that he put up. I think he's capable of being a two 80 plus hitter, the on base skills would clearly go up if he's able to show a little bit more patience at the plate, even a three 40 to three 50 on base percentage to go along with that. I think he could slug somewhere between four 75 and 500, maybe better because he's shown some emerging power and he went home and I don't think he stopped working over the course of the off season. He looked great when I saw him in spring training and he was depositing baseballs over the offices and right field at the brave spring training park and that's not a thing that I really remembered about Michael Harris a couple of Titanic home runs he hit last year, notwithstanding. It's just all of his skills are legit. The arm is legit, the gloves legit, he runs, he's got the power. It's all there. It's just, I think, taking those steps and maybe kind of finding your way through the adjustments that the league makes to you the second time around that's going to take him to that next level, but he is an incredibly hard worker student of the game. And even when he's not hitting, he does so much in center field. It's just going to continue to cement his value for this club. But I think he's a 2020 player. Capable of that, where they put him in the lineup, will obviously dictate the level of run production he may have, but I think that the braves are going to find Michael Harris right in the middle of a lot of good things going on offensively in 2023. Well, let's move from a 2020 potential player to a 40 40 potential player, at least at least he has been in the past. So you mentioned some restraint surrounding Ronald Acuna in his comeback from injury are all limitations off now. Is he back to full strength? And if so, do you expect to see the same power speed combo that we saw before he got hurt? Yeah, I definitely do. It was the power that wasn't there last year that kind of made you wonder where exactly did that go, but I think that there was a lot of consternation for Ronald just trusting the leg again maybe in some places in having a significant amount of time off and then rehabbing and then coming back in and then dealing with some of maybe the residual soreness that happens after a big injury like that, but in talking to both the club from the winter fan fest to spring training to hear it from Ronald himself, all these limitations are off. He feels a 100% clearly the club felt that the limitations are off. He wouldn't play in the world baseball classic and he was back out in center field, which is not a place that he's going to play very much because of Michael Harris, but we saw Ronald play exactly one inning in center field last year. It's just not a place that he had been very often. He has a speed to cover it, but I think he's better suited as a right Fielder and the offensive profile that he showed before the surgical procedure on the knee and kind of that hurdle that was thrown at him there. I think he's going to come out and get back to the Ronald lacuna junior that we're accustomed to seeing. The power I've seen in spring training looks like that's going to translate to games. And last year, even though he was dealing with a knee injury, the sprint speeds were still pretty good, not what they were pre surgery, but he also stole 29 bases, so he wasn't so timid that he wasn't going to run anymore. And I asked him point blanket at fanfest as it looks some of these rules changes could mean more stolen basis for you. Is that something you're thinking about? And he said two things and he kind of smiled. He's like, well, you got to get there first, but I'm always looking to steal. So as far as 40 40 goes, it might just be the home runs that we're waiting on because the stolen base is I think are going to be there for him. And I think he enjoys that part of his game. So I expect big things from him is what 25 years old. He's in the prime of his career. I think the best for Ronald lacuna junior is yet to come. He was showing it in 2021. Last year was a little bit of a step back, but now I think is a great season for him to kind of remind baseball that he is one of the top talents in the entire game. This isn't uncommon for a team that projects as well as Atlanta does, but there aren't a lot of positional battles on the position player side here. I mean, we could go player by player and ask what you expect of metal center Austin Riley or any of the rest, but I'm curious, are there any spots that were sort of more competitive and unsettled going through camp and then are there any guys among the returning stalwarts where you're looking for them to elevate their game to another level in 2023? Yeah, a few more battles in spring training than just shortstop. There was the 5th spot of the rotation, which we could maybe get into pitching in a moment separately if you want to, but as far as the position players, all of those left fielders, I think, had an opportunity to earn some playing time Sam Hilliard looked great. I know that hitters who don't necessarily really strike it big with the Colorado Rockies are kind of a quizzical thing, but the braves really like what they've seen out of him. So I think he's a guy that could be somebody that maybe keep an eye on from a good contribution standpoint. We'll see, but if you're looking at the overall lineup regulars and guys who could take a big step forward, I think it's going to be a career year offensively for Sean Murphy just by getting out of the coliseum. I think Matt Olsen and if you've looked at what he's done this spring, it's hard not to get caught up in numbers like that, 8 home runs, 18 runs knocked in. With another one on Monday.