SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Serious injuries sidelined Monte Harrison for much of his first two pro seasons. Now that he's staying healthy in 2017, he's showing why scouts considered him the best athlete in the 2014 Draft.
Though the Brewers outfielder only gets to play twice a week in the Arizona Fall League as a member of the Salt River Rafters' taxi squad, he's making the most of his opportunities. On Tuesday, Harrison went 2-for-4 with a homer, three runs, three RBIs, a walk and a stolen base in an 11-4 victory over the Peoria Javelinas.
Harrison's three-run homer broke open the game in the third inning. One of his main goals this fall has been to improve his approach and use the whole field, and that's what he did against Red Sox left-hander Henry Owens. After falling behind 0-2 in the count, the right-handed hitter battled back to a full count and ended the seven-pitch at-bat by staying back on a changeup and slamming it 388 feet to right-center with an exit velocity of 107 mph, according to Statcast™.
Harrison has homered in three of his last four games and is batting .295/.340/.682 with five homers, 13 RBIs and five steals in 11 contests. He said he has tried to stay sharp by getting in as much work in the batting cage as he can.
"I'm just putting myself in the best position to be successful when I do get into games," Harrison said. "Lot of fuzzball machine, having coaches throw the ball at me as hard as they could. Just staying on the mental grind of it, just being in the game when I'm not on the game, having mental ABs in the dugout. A lot of people can make fun of it, but at the end of the day it's what you do to get ready for the game."
Harrison was a four-star wide receiver recruit at Lee's Summit (Mo.) West High who had a scholarship to play both football and baseball at Nebraska. He accounted for 29 touchdowns while helping Lee's Summit West win the Missouri Class 5 state title in the fall of 2013. On the basketball court, he averaged 16.4 points as a guard as Lee's Summit West finished third in the state and also won the dunk contest at the Greater Kansas City All-Star Challenge.
Harrison decided to focus on baseball when the Brewers drafted him in the second round in 2014 and offered a $1.8 million bonus. He says he hasn't missed football or basketball, even when his baseball career didn't start like he hoped. He broke his left ankle running the bases in 2015 and the hamate bone in his left hand in 2016, and he batted just .193/.276/.303 in low Class A during those two seasons.
This year, Harrison avoided injury and batted .272/.350/.481 with 21 homers and 27 steals between two Class A stops at age 21. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder once again is showcasing the tools that excited scouts when he was in high school: well above-average raw power and arm strength as well as plus speed. One of the most impressive all-around players in the Fall League, he said he's thrilled to be back on the diamond on a daily basis.
"Playing every day has been a blessing," Harrison said. "I knew the time was going to come where it was going to shine, but just when was it going to happen? I just kept working, kept working and it's finally starting to show."
Orioles No. 9 prospect Anthony Santander and Rockies No. 14 prospect Brian Mundell also provided three RBIs each for the Rafters. Santander doubled and tripled in five at-bats, while Mundell went 3-for-3 with a double and a pair of walks.
Red Sox No. 2 prospect Michael Chavis homered twice for the Javelinas, doubling his AFL total after he finished fifth in the Minors with 31 homers during the regular season. The No. 92 overall prospect hit an inside-the-parker in the fifth inning off a 95-mph fastball from Marlins right-hander James Needy, circling the bases when D-backs center fielder Victor Reyes and Rockies right fielder Yonathan Diaz collided while chasing his line drive into the gap. Both Reyes and Diaz left the game but a Fall League spokesman said neither sustained a serious injury.
Chavis lined a ball over the fence and just inside the left-field foul pole in the eighth inning off a 91-mph sinker from Marlins left-hander Miguel del Pozo. The ball traveled 374 feet with an exit velocity of 111 mph, according to Statcast™.
Peoria's loss and the Mesa Solar Sox's defeat at the hands of the Glendale Desert Dogs marked the second straight day that the division leaders failed to capitalize on the opportunity to clinch playoff berths. With two games remaining, the Javelinas (16-12) lead the Desert Dogs (14-14) in the West, while the Rafters (13-13-2) trail the Solar Sox (15-12-1) by 1 1/2 in the East.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.