SACRAMENTO — When you’re as highly touted as Kyle Harrison, every box score is dissected for signs that the next step is coming. And it’s not just Giants fans who are going line by line.
Harrison’s family members and friends are anxiously waiting for him to take the final step from De La Salle to Oracle Park, and Giants officials talk often about how quickly everything might snap into place. It could be a stretch of just two or three dominant starts that show Harrison is fully ready for the big leagues.
Harrison had that type of week at the end of May, allowing just one hit over two shutout starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate and striking out 14 while walking just four. It wasn’t just the results that opened eyes within the organization.
The 21-year-old started mixing in a different slider late last month, and he felt comfortable with the pitch just about right away. As he pushes for a promotion, Harrison’s mastery of the tighter slider might be just as important as his strikeout numbers or how many runs he’s giving up.
Harrison has always thrown a fastball that can touch the upper 90s, a big slider, and a changeup that he’ll flash a few times per start. But he now is essentially throwing two sliders, one that’s a little faster and acts like a cutter, and his old one that’s more of a sweeper and is a better weapon with two strikes.
The Giants and Harrison are hopeful the new slider can help him get some quicker outs and get deeper into games. Early on this season, hitters were giving up on his sweeper as it left his hand, but the new slider is thrown in the mid-80s and has helped him more consistently get in the strike zone.
“I think the fastball command has come along and it’s been going good. I think I’m past the point of the fastball command (being an issue),” he said on Thursday’s Giants Talk Podcast. “Now it’s figuring out how to throw that new slider that I’m throwing, the new gyro slider, how to land that more consistently to get me back in counts and just establishing the sweeper off of that. It’s just trying to see what plays and figure out ways to sequence. That’s the next step.”
Brian Bannister, the organization’s director of pitching, helped Harrison with the grip and River Cats pitching coach Garvin Alston has helped him implement it in games and make adjustments. It’s a daily process, with Harrison constantly working on the shape. Alston has helped Harrison keep the focus where it should be.
“He tells me all the time, ‘Just trust the process, don’t think too much big picture,'” Harrison said. “It’s one game at a time, one outing at a time, one bullpen at a time.”
That can be hard to do when you see members of your draft class — Patrick Bailey and Casey Schmitt — settle in at the big league level, but Harrison has mostly managed to avoid the noise. The Giants have stayed patient, too, even with multiple injuries in their big league rotation.
Harrison will make his 13th…
Read More: Giants prospect Kyle Harrison making adjustments as big league debut nears – NBC 2023-06-09 21:57:49