The Morning After STL

From Military to the Majors: Derrick Goold Talks Mitch Harris’ Journey

Brendan Marks, Tue, 21 Apr 2015 16:23:00 GMT

Navy veteran Mitch Harris was promoted to the Cardinals Monday night and will join the team in time for their series against the Washington Nationals in the nation’s capital.

a graduate of the naval academy in annapolis, md., the 29-year-old relief pitcher could make his major league debut while centerfielder peter bourjos is on paternity leave.

Harris, who has been in the minor leagues the past three seasons, was drafted by the Cardinals in 2008 but spent the first five years fulfilling his military duties in the U.S. Navy.

Derrick Goold, who wrote more about Harris in Tuesday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, joined The Ryan Kelley Morning After to talk more in-depth about the former Navy ace’s journey to the Big Leagues.

Here’s what he had to say:

On Harris’ back story:

“It’s been 90 years since a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy has played in the Major Leagues. There were contemporaries of Mitch Harris who were drafted in the NFL and were allowed to pursue their professional sports careers, whereas Harris was not. Harris petitioned and asked (and was declined).”

On his time in the Navy:

“He satisfied his military commitment to the Navy. He went through it all, he asked many times to try to join the Cardinals. When he did have a break he tried to get to the instructional league or extended spring or whatever was going on in Jupiter, he tried to get to to maintain his sharpness over the years and now here he is closer to 30 than when he was drafted. He served overseas, served on a ship that was part of the drug war. He’s done a lot and he’s re-made himself as a reliever. It’s not like this is a courtesy call-up. He was really effective in spring.”

On timing of being called up for Washington Nationals series:

– “We have the backdrop of the Capitol here, we’re not too far from Annapolis. All the stars align for Mitch Harris to come to (Washington D.C.) and get an inning in and make a little history.”

Probably not a lot of wear and tear on his arm either right?

“Exactly. He throws about 93-94 mph, he throws a split, he has a breaking ball. He kind of has the look of a lot of guys we’ve seen who in their early 30s, mid-30s, kind of remake themselves as a right-handed reliever to handle the 7th or 8th inning for a contender. Same kind of mix of pitches (as former Cardinal Russ Springer).”

More on Harris:

“He’s said he doesn’t just want to be a great story, he wants to be a Major League pitcher.”

Surprised they called up a reliever?

“I’m not too surprised for a short fix. And also, I’m not sure they’ll ever say it, but they don’t mind doing things dramatically. Every so often, (Cardinals GM John Mozeliak) likes to have a little theater. They have three days in Washington DC, they could benefit from a reliever, it’s only going to be a very short stint. Why not bring up the Navy guy?”

Goold covered several other topics surrounding the Cardinals. Listen to the whole segment here:

Derrick Goold Talks Mitch Harris, Cardinals Topics on TMA