Following an All-American campaign that ended in the College World Series this past summer, KJ Harrison’s transition from Oregon State University to professional baseball was a quick and impressive one.
The Punahou graduate is back home for the holidays after being selected in the third round of the Major League Baseball draft in June, but he’s not taking it easy.
Harrison is part of a stable of professional ball players from Hawaii holding off-season workouts at Tactical Strength and Conditioning in Kakaako, where he’s focused on making more waves in the minor leagues.
In 48 games with the Helena Brewers, the Advanced Rookie affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, the designated hitter and catcher hit an impressive .308 batting average with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs.
While he’s never satisfied, the Kailua native provided a cascade of confidence ahead of the 2018 season.
“(I’m) always working. At the end of the day, the goal is to make it to the top and play in the majors,” Harrison told KHON2. “So especially in the off-season, it’s real important being able to work out with these guys and I’m so thankful for Darin (Yap) and all that he does for us. It’s a great group of guys and we just get after it and work hard because we’re all chasing after the same dream.”
“What’s your mindset as far as what needs to be accomplished in this off-season before you report?” KHON2 asked.
“Just getting stronger and more flexible, working on the core strength and getting my legs in shape, because I’m back behind the dish (as catcher) now. It’s a lot different than first base, so getting my legs in shape and getting the core stronger to help the swing out,” Harrison replied. “I think it’s a big jump also getting used to playing every day. I mean, you’re playing seven days a week. Sometimes you have an off day after the seventh game, but most of the time you don’t, so there’s a huge adjustment just to get physically and mentally strong and prepared to get through the grind.”
Harrison will spend some time in Corvallis, Ore. this winter and is expected to report for spring training in two months.
Most pundits believe he’ll open the season at the Class A-Advanced level.