ATLANTA — The time has arrived.
Kyle Harrison, the Giants’ most-heralded pitching prospect since Madison Bumgarner and a Bay Area native, will be promoted to make his highly anticipated major league debut Tuesday against the Philadelphia Phillies, a source confirmed to the Bay Area News Group. FanSided MLB insider Robert Murray was first to report the news.
Harrison, considered the No. 35 overall prospect in the game by Baseball America and No. 20 by MLB.com, has a 4.66 ERA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League this season with 105 strikeouts — and 48 walks — in 65⅔ innings but earned the promotion with the improvements he made since returning from a mid-season hamstring strain.
In his final two starts with Triple-A Sacramento, Harrison struck out 11 batters without issuing a walk, with the only damage coming on a three-run home run.
He is expected to provide a much-needed boost to a pitching staff that possesses only two regular starters and on Saturday lost Ross Stripling to the injured list, as well as a team that has lost 10 of its past 13 games has seen its playoff chances dwindle with a tenuous half-game lead in the wild card race over the Cubs and Reds, and the Marlins and D-backs only a half-game back of them.
Harrison, who turned 22 last week, has been on the radar since the Giants drafted him 85th overall out of De La Salle (Concord) in 2020 and lured him away from a college commitment to UCLA with a $2.5 million signing bonus, more than triple slot value.
He ascended into the top left-handed pitching prospect in the game upon entering pro ball, where he has mostly relied on a two-pitch mix — a mid-90s heater and a wipeout slider — to dominate the lower levels of the minor leagues. While rocketing from A-ball in 2021 to Triple-A Sacramento to begin this season, Harrison has struck out an average of 14.56 batters per nine innings with a 3.32 ERA in 69 minor-league starts.
President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi suggested during spring training that Harrison’s arrival was imminent after posting a 3.11 ERA in 18 starts with Double-A Richmond, setting him up to begin this season with Sacramento, one step away from the major leagues. His 186 strikeouts between two levels in 2022 trailed only D-backs prospect Brandon Pfaadt for the most in the minor leagues.
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But it took until mid-August as Harrison was tasked with harnessing a third pitch and consistently throwing his entire arsenal for strikes. His arrival was also delayed by a hamstring strain he suffered before the All-Star break, or else he was on track to be promoted prior to the trade deadline.
Without a reliable third offering — his changeup is a work in progress — right-handed hitters at Triple-A posted a .901 OPS against him this season, versus a .505 mark by lefties.
The Phillies offer him a softer landing than the Braves, who in addition to being baseball’s highest-scoring offense also have punished lefties more than any other team this season. While the Philadelphia crowd will make for an intimidating environment, their more left-handed lineup is at least more favorable for Harrison.
It’s likely the Giants will have a bulk-innings pitcher lined up behind him.
Harrison threw 60 pitches — 44 strikes — in his last start and hasn’t exceeded five innings in start this season.
— IF Brandon Crawford was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left forearm strain. Stuck in a 1-for-28 slump, Crawford’s batting average had slipped to .194, and Kapler said Saturday that the forearm injury “really hasn’t enabled him to get on top of the baseball like he wants to.” OF Luis Matos was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento and started in left field against Braves LHP Max Fried.