After being forced off the field as the 2020 Minor League Baseball season was canceled to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawaii’s KJ Harrison is eager to make up for lost time in 2021.
Harrison, who is a first base prospect with the Washington Nationals, will report to the organization’s minor league camp later this week in West Palm Beach, Fla., where he is hoping to carry the momentum from a year of workouts.
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“I looked at it as another opportunity to get better and work on things that during the season I don’t have time to strength wise, mobility wise,” Harrison told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “It was just one of those deals, it’s just life. It just so happened that a year like this had happened and I told myself no matter what, make the most of it and make the most of the time and so I put in the work and hopefully coming up soon we’re playing here pretty soon.”
Harrison, a Punahou graduate who played collegiately at Oregon State, has spent more than a year back home in Kailua where he trained under the watch of Tactical Strength and Conditioning’s Darin Yap in the gym. Additionally, he was also getting field work done with a handful of Hawaii natives in pro baseball including Texas Rangers shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Cleveland pitching prospect Joey Cantillo.
In 2019, Harrison batted .244 at the A level with 11 home runs and 47 RBI. On Feb. 12, the former third-round draft choice by the Milwaukee Brewers was assigned to Triple-A Rochester. At this time he does not know at which level he will open the 2021 season, but regardless of where he starts, his mission remains on where he intends to finish.
“Make it to the big leagues. We’ll see what happens, I don’t know where I’m going to start or where they’re going to have me, but every year the goal for me is to get better,” he said. “Sometimes, especially with baseball you can only control what you can control and the thing for me that I always tell myself is at the end of the day I want to be able to give it my all and once the cleats are done whenever it is, I want to be able to say I gave it everything. I’m just out here working hard and trying to get up there.”
According to prospects1500.com, Harrison is considered as the 40th ranked prospect in the Washington organization. Minor League camps will open this week with the season scheduled to begin May 4.
Alternate training sites will once again be used in 2021 during the delay to the Minor League season as all 30 organizations will send Triple-A caliber players to facilities in close proximity to the Major League parks in case an early season call-up is needed. Only players at the alternate sites are eligible to be called up until the Minor League season begins in May.
Washington Nationals Minor League Affiliates:
Rochester Red Wings (Class AAA; International League)
Harrisburg Senators (Class AA; Eastern League)
Wilmington Blue Rocks (Class A; Carolina League)
Fredericksburg Nationals (Class A)