Legends On Deck

Exclusive Interview With Tigers Prospect Connor Harrell

Connor Harrell - GoErie

Connor Harrell with a diving attempt in Double-A last season. (Image: GoErie.com)

During the 2013 June Amateur Draft, the Detroit Tigers took six straight pitchers until they decided to change it up and with their seventh pick as they drafted outfielder Connor Harrell out of Vanderbilt University.

The love of the game started at a young age for Harrell, but it didn’t manifest until he realized his dream of playing professional baseball would be his reality after committing to Vanderbilt University. Harrell was a standout player in college, playing in all four years while starting mostly in center field.

The Tigers initially drafted Harrell in the 31st round of the 2012 June Amateur draft but the Texas native decided that another season in college would be best to prove he could play at the professional level, “I was very grateful to the Tigers for drafting me in 2012, but I didn’t have my best college season that year, and I felt like I still had much to prove at that level before taking the next step,” says Harrell as he recalled his college playing days with Legends On Deck.

Harrell made the right decision because he had his best college baseball season in 2013 while batting .312/.418/.530, with 12 home runs and 67 RBI’s and also receiving the following honors, Second Team All-SEC, NCBWA Second Team All-American, ABCA Second Team All-American, and ABCA First Team All-South Region.

“It worked out in 2013, when the Tigers drafted me again albeit in a much higher round. Everyone says this, but it really was a dream come true.  They’ve afforded me a great opportunity, and it’s my job to take advantage of it.”

After his big season at Vanderbilt, the Tigers placed Harrell with their Class A squad the West Michigan Whitecaps. In 65 games he batted .237 with five home runs and 29 RBI’s.

In 2014, the Tigers moved him up to the Class A Advanced Lakeland Flying Tigers and his game elevated to another level as he hit .270, with 26 doubles, 14 home runs and 66 RBI’s.

Connor Harrell - MLB

Image Source: MLB.com

This past season, Harrell was given the opportunity to start in Double-A with the Erie Sea Wolves, and even though he struggled a bit at the plate, batting .222, with seven home runs and 41 RBI’s,  he did have stretches where he stood out with a 10-game hitting streak in May and a total of 24 multi-hit games on the season, while recording six 3-hit games.

The 24-year old prospect understands that greatness starts with how well you learn from the game, “I’ve had the opportunity to play with a lot of very good players, and learning from other guys can often be the best kind of coaching.  I’ve been lucky enough to play for some very good coaches as well, and I have the Tigers to thank for that.”

Going into the 2016 season, prospects still have much to prove, and putting together goals, especially in the off-season, will prepare them for the next step in their journey to the majors. Harrell shared with me how he prepared himself for the upcoming baseball season, “I set quite a few goals this year.  Going into the off-season, I knew that I needed to improve if I was going to continue to move through our system.  I wanted to regain some weight that I lost throughout the year, which I was able to do.”

The Prospect continues, “Additionally, I used the extensive off-season time to rebuild a swing that I would feel comfortable with. I did a lot of work to really understand my movements and apply them to game like situations.  I work out at Vanderbilt, where there are 25-30 professionals working out on any given day. It’s a pretty special environment.”

Hard work can turn dreams into reality and making most of all opportunities are the needed ingredients for ballplayers at the minor league level. Harrell understands to never take it for granted,  “Being in Double-A in 2015, I know that you aren’t too far away at that level. My goal is to improve each day, and let the chips fall where they may.”

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We want to thank Connor Harrell for giving us the opportunity to share his journey with our readers and his fans.  We wish him continued success as he continues to work hard and one day soon achieve his dream of playing major league baseball.

Below we asked him a few fun questions:

LOD: Do you have any pregame rituals?

CH: Eat! I like to read before each game as well.

LOD: Which Major League player did you look up to when you were growing up? What was your favorite team?

CH: I grew up in the “Killer B” era of Astros baseball. I grew up idolizing guys like Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and Lance Berkman. I always looked up to Lance, because of the kind of guy he was off the field as much as he was on it.

LOD: Besides baseball, did you play any other sports growing up?

CH: I played football and ran track in high school. I briefly considered playing both football and baseball at the collegiate level, but baseball won out.

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