JOSH HARRISON
THIRD BASEMAN
  Born: July 8, 1987
Height: 5′ 8″
Weight: 175
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 6th Round, 191st Overall, 2008
How Acquired: Trade (for John Grabow/Tom Gorzelanny)
College: Cincinnati
Agent: Jonathan Maurer

Links:

Josh Harrison 2009 Hitting and Fielding Video Recap

 

 

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

Harrison came from the Cubs, along with RHPs Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio, in exchange for LHPs John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny.  He’s a classic case of a player with little in the way of tools who performs very well, at least in one or two areas.  At the time of the 2008 draft, Baseball America’s assessment of Harrison was less than inspiring:  won’t hit for power with wood bats, not good defensively, doesn’t pivot well, and only average speed.  (The Pirates, by contrast, think he has good speed. You’d think this would be measurable somehow . . . .)  Despite the assessment, Harrison has hit for average and decent to good gap power, made good contact, and shown some base stealing ability.  He makes good contact, but will swing at nearly any pitch.  Literally.  He hasn’t had much of a platoon split in the majors, but he’s had a sizable one in the minors since he reached AAA.  Regardless of how fast he may be, he’s a good, aggressive baserunner.  He hasn’t settled into any position and is not strong defensively.  In the minors he played second, third and left, mostly just the first two after the Pirates acquired him.  The Pirates used him as a backup at short in 2012 in the majors and he started playing there part of the time in AAA in 2013.  The defensive stats suggest that he’s good at third, subpar at second and in the outfield, and simply shouldn’t play short.

2008
A-:  351/462/509, 114 AB, 11 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 23 BB, 12 K, 12-18 SB
A:  262/286/336, 122 AB, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 BB, 11 K, 6-8 SB

Started off in short season ball and hit very well, with nearly twice as many walks as strikeouts.  He moved up to low A after 33 games and just held his own in 31 games there.  He played mostly second at both stops.

2009
A (ChiC):  337/377/479, 303 AB, 17 2B, 7 3B, 4 HR, 16 BB, 25 K, 16-25 SB
A+ (ChiC):  286/351/400, 70 AB, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 BB, 7 K, 10-11 SB
A+ (Pgh):  270/289/362, 141 AB, 8 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 1 BB, 19 K, 4-5 SB 

While he was still with the Cubs, Harrison divided his time between second, third and left.  He spent two-thirds of the season in low A and hit well.  He rarely walked or struck out.  He played 18 games at high A with the Cubs before the trade.  With Lynchburg after the trade he may have been pressing, because in 34 games he walked just once and fanned 19 times.  If he hadn’t been hit with four pitches, his OBP would have been lower than his BA.  He split time between second and third.  For the season he did well running the bases.

2010
AA:  300/345/398, 520 AB, 33 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 32 BB, 52 K, 19-26 SB

Spent the season at Altoona and did well, hitting for average with doubles power.  He struck out only once every ten ABs, but also didn’t walk much.  He managed to drive in 75 runs with only four HRs.  He started the season playing mainly second, but eventually settled in primarily at third and ended up playing two-thirds of his games there.  The move may have had more to do with the fact that the Pirates wanted Jordy Mercer and Chase d’Arnaud at the middle infield positions.

2011
AAA:  310/365/460, 226 AB, 15 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 15 BB, 28 K, 13-18 SB
MLB:  272/281/374, 195 AB, 13 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 3 BB, 24 K, 4-5 SB 

Harrison opened the season at Indianapolis, playing two-thirds of the time at third and the rest at second.  He had significant error problems, with very low fielding percentages of .897 at third and .950 at second.  He continued to draw few walks and seldom strike out, and he showed a little more power.  About two months into the season, with Pedro Alvarez and Steve Pearce both hurt, the Pirates called Harrison up.  They sent him back down a couple of times, but not for very long due to their injury epidemic, so he ended up spending over half the season in the majors.  Other than a few games spelling Neil Walker at second, he played third exclusively and did not have the error problems he did in the minors.  He showed good contact ability and a little gap power, but absolutely no patience.  He walked just three times in 204 plate appearances.  He swung at pitches over his head, pitches that bounced in front of the plate, pitches that would have been behind a left-handed hitter.  He said after one of his trips to the minors that the Pirates wanted him to be more patient, but he wasn’t.  He drew no walks in 59 plate appearances in September.

2012
MLB:  233/279/345, 249 AB, 9 2B, 5 3B, 3 HR, 10 BB, 37 K, 7-10 SB

The Pirates got Harrison work at shortstop in fall instructional league and in spring training to increase his usefulness as a utility infielder.  Harrison also indicated that he realized he needs to take more pitches.  He ended up having a big spring and made the team, serving for most of the year as the Pirates’ primary backup infielder.  That included being the primary backup at shortstop, even when Jordy Mercer was in the majors.  He doesn’t really belong at the position, but wasn’t horrible; the defensive stats show him to be below average, but not dramatically so, in a small sample size.  Offensively, Harrison was very poor.  His plate discipline improved from non-existent to nearly non-existent, but he hit very little.

2013
AAA:  317/373/507, 268 AB, 29 2B, 5 3B, 4 HR, 20 BB, 39 K, 19-26 SB
MLB:  250/290/409, 88 AB, 1 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 2 BB, 10 K, 2-2 SB

The Pirates’ disastrous acquisition of Brandon Inge and John McDonald resulted in Harrison spending most of the season’s first half in the minors.  He started off in the majors while Inge rehabbed in AAA, but went to Indianapolis in mid-April and stayed there until nearly mid-July, except for a few brief stretches.  While in AAA, he mainly divided his time between second and short.  After coming back up to stay, he served primarily as a pinch hitter, as Jordy Mercer’s emergence left Harrison as the second choice for a utility infielder.  In both the minors and majors, Harrison’s hitting improved, mostly in the form of better power.  In fact, his 29 doubles in AAA came in less than half a season.  His plate discipline improved slightly in AAA, but in the majors he was more impatient than ever.  He swung at 53.5% of the pitches he saw; the major league average is about 46-47%.

Harrison made some strides in 2013, but his main drawback remains.  Still, his overall offensive production was solid for a utility infielder and he’s far preferable to the washed-up veterans the Pirates are prone to bringing in (and almost always dumping around mid-season).  Harrison’s only competition for a utility job in spring training was Robert Andino and Michael Martinez, which wasn’t really any competition at all, so he’ll open the season with the Pirates.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Majors
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MLB.com
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2014: Major League Minimum
2013:
Major League Minimum
2012:
$484,000
2011:
Major League Minimum
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $144,500
MiLB Debut: 2008
MLB Debut: 5/31/2011
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2017
Rule 5 Eligible: Protected
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 2 (USED:  2013)
MLB Service Time: 2.033
TRANSACTIONS
June 6, 2008: Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 6th round, 191st overall pick; signed on June 26.
July 30, 2009: Acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Chicago Cubs along with Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio in exchange for John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny.
May 30, 2011: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.