Kyle Harrison’s first two spring training appearances haven’t gone as smoothly as possible for the Giants’ top pitching prospect.
In his first outing, on March 1, Harrison allowed two runs on three hits in his one scheduled inning. Afterwards, he said he felt like his pitches were effective, but some of his two-strike execution needed work. The 21-year-old lefty added that some pitches that likely would’ve blown past minor league hitters may have gotten fouled off or put into play by the more talented Cactus League batters.
Then on Tuesday, in the Giants’ exhibition against Cincinnati in Goodyear, Arizona, Harrison got roughed up even more. He couldn’t even get out of the first inning of his first Cactus League start, in fact.
Harrison’s afternoon began with a leadoff double to the wall to Jonathan India. India then advanced to third on a wild pitch that skittered past catcher Roberto Pérez. Reds first baseman Tyler Stephenson drove in India with a single lined to right field that got misplayed by Heliot Ramos.
Harrison then appeared to settle in, recording a strikeout and routine groundout. But then he walked a batter to put two on for outfielder TJ Friedl.
Friedl, a left-handed hitter, took Harrison deep to right field for a three-run shot. Manager Gabe Kapler took Harrison out right after, replacing him after he allowed four runs and recorded two outs.
“It’s a really good experience for him,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler told reporters postgame, via The Mercury News. “This is what spring training is for, to work some of the kinks out and get your first experiences doing things, like starting a major league spring training game. He threw strikes, the stuff was coming out good.
“Just kind of in the middle of the plate a little bit, major league hitters are good and that’s what happens. We talked about it after and I think Kyle understands that, over the course of time, these sorts of experiences will help him. Right now, it’s not going to feel great to him, but he’s pretty good at turning the page.”
Because pitchers can return after getting removed from spring training games, Harrison came back out for the second inning.
Harrison allowed an additional run — on another India double plus a single — but avoided more severe damage.
In total, he finished with five earned runs on five hits with two strikeouts and one walk in 1.2 innings.
“The pitches weren’t looking too good today, to my liking,” Harrison said, via The Mercury News. “Really just got to keep my antenna up in the bullpens and get after it, pounding the strike zone and try to get ahead of these guys. That’s what I realized the most [today].”
Spring training stats are mostly irrelevant. The Giants will evaluate Harrison more on his mechanics, strike-throwing and performance in Triple-A.
But nobody, no matter the league, season or sample size, wants a 23.63 ERA.