Kyle Harrison is one of the best pitching prospects in the game
Kyle Harrison is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. Draft 85th overall in 2020 out of De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., the southpaw who just turned 21 is No. 30 on our Top 100 updated. Ranked ninth among pitchers, Harrison dominated on two levels. Currently with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, he’s whipped up 143 batters and allowed just 57 hits in 86 1/3 innings this season. In a nutshell, the young southpaw was overwhelming.
Harrison discussed his repertoire when Richmond played in Portland over the weekend.
David Laurila: To start, give me a self-recognition report.
Kyle Harrisson: “My fastball average is about 94 [mph]. I spin it decently – not too high – but it’s from a low approach angle so I think the ball has risen a bit. Next, I’m going to go to my slider. I’m going to kind of grab this on all four seams and really try to rip it at the bottom of the area. It’s a bit faster than a regular slider. I try to make it harder. I’m able to get it to 85 sometimes – that’s kinda where I want it to be – but those are the ones that take the most effort. It’s usually more 80-83.
“The change that I’m playing with now is a new grip. I’m sort of separating the two seams there. It’s more of a seam, so I can have a little more somersault. I threw it more louder than I would like to be in. I try to throttle the bike a bit to get a better gear differential.
Laurila: A number of casters cast at a seam, but I’m admittedly not too familiar with changes at a seam.
Harrisson: “Yeah absolutely. From my split – I’m a little three quarters – it’s hard for me to really stay on top of a shift. I feel like just having that seam and splitting that other finger really allows me to shoot the ball in. It allows me to get down in the zone, rather than having the surge and life that I get from that lunge.
Laurila: I guess that’s your major in sewing?
Harrisson: “Yeah. And then I split it here, and really try to overhand with it.
Laurila: The split finger you show me is similar to a Vulcan, but you don’t grab and throw the pitch like a Vulcan.
Harrisson: “Right. It’s more of a variation of that. I sort of learned it by trial and error. It’s a matter of feel. Earlier in the season, I was doing a handful of four-seam changes, and I was losing it a lot on the side of the arm. This allows me to stick to it.”
Laurila: Was the handle a suggestion or did you come up with it yourself?
Harrisson: “It was suggested, but for the most part it was me who wanted to change it because I was taking too much life with it.”
Laurila: Who made the suggestion?
Harrisson: “Paul Oseguera, our pitching coach here, mentioned I could get higher on the seam and split it a bit. We were talking after one of my rides and I told him I wasn’t too comfortable with my grip change. We tried this one and threw a few in front of a TrackMan. It killed a lot of green, actually – a few centimeters of vertical. It’s cool to be able to see this on a TrackMan, throw a throw and see how it moves.
Laurila: When you say “green kill”, do you mean you gain depth?
Harrisson: “Yes, and a little more horizontal too. That’s the ground I’m really working on now. I try to find this coherence with that.
Laurila: What’s the story behind your swipe slider?
Harrisson: “It has always been with me. It’s always been my slider shape, and once I got into pro ball and started throwing harder, it got even faster. It’s really just my arm slit and the way I hold it sideways. Basically, I fall on it and rip it with a firm wrist.
Laurila: Do you handle it at all?
Harrisson: “Honestly, I just throw it in and let it do its thing. I’m just choosing the starting points, knowing that there will probably be a lot of horizontality. I get anywhere from 15 to 20 [inches].”
Laurila: And what about your fastball? You mentioned the angle of approach.
Harrisson: “I think that’s the key to my fastball. This is the drop height and approach angle. You don’t see guys coming from where I come from all the time. I think being able to get down in my legs really helps. That’s always how I threw a baseball. Yeah, that’s a weird thing. I never really modified it much. I just throw it that way.
Laurila: When did you learn why this was an effective pitch for you?
Harrisson: “I would say that was last year, my first [pitching] professional ball. I was getting swings and misses, and obviously the data and analysis was good. Once it started, I was like, ‘Oh, I’ve got a good pitch. Let’s go and see what else we have.