Atlanta Braves place Michael Harris on injured list, recall Eli White

Today the Atlanta Braves placed center fielder Michael Harris II on the IL and recalled outfielder Eli White from Gwinnett.
Today the Atlanta Braves placed center fielder Michael Harris II on the IL and recalled outfielder Eli White from Gwinnett. / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Harris II left last night’s game, reports indicated it wasn’t a serious incident, and he was expected to be day-to-day. This morning the Braves placed Harris on the 10-day IL.

Every report last night indicated that Harris’ injury came after landing hard when he slid into second base, but those reports weren’t accurate.

MLB’s Maria Torres Tweets that Harris injured his back when he hit the center field wall. No one mentioned seeing anything like that in Thursday’s game, so it could have happened during the Cardinals’ series and been aggravated when he slid into second. No matter the cause, Harris is on the IL, and Eli White moves up to fill the vacant roster spot.

Eli’s Coming. . .

Okay, he’s here; I couldn’t resist using that. White was drafted three times before signing with Oakland in 2016. After finishing 2016 in Rookie Ball, White spent 2017 in High-A and moving to AA in 2018, posting his best year at the plate for Midland, batting .306/.388/.450/.838 with nine homers, eight triples, and 30 doubles.

In December 2019, the Athletics traded White to Texas as part of a three-team deal for Jurickson Profar, and the Rangers assigned White to AAA Nashville.

White’s bat took a step back in AAA, but after a cup of coffee during the Pandemic shortened 2020 season, he started the 2021 season with the Rangers.

He struggled to a .127/.200/.164/.364 line in the first 22 games, and The Rangers optioned him to Round Rock. White quickly found his stroke again, batting .343//.450/.537/.987 over the next 20 games, earning a recall to Arlington, but he continued to struggle against Major League pitching.

White played in 47 Major League games in 2022 before a broken wrist ended his season.

Atlanta Braves Add White

In January 2023, the Braves purchased White’s contract from Texas and assigned him to Gwinnett.

White had a strong Spring training, batting .429/.500/.893/1.393, including three homers, a triple, and two doubles in 28 AB. He was batting .235/.350/.765/1.115 when called up this morning.

White’s bat has yet to make the jump against Major League pitching, but his sprint speed ranks in the 98th percentile, and his arm strength in the 77th. Defensive metrics rate him favorably, with four outs above average over the last two seasons.

That’s A Wrap

Sam Hilliard and Kevin Pillar will likely get more starts than White, who’ll slot into a bench role, but his speed gives manager Brian Snitker a pinch-runner who’s also a real stolen base threat.

Hilliard will get most of the innings in center. He made solid contract Thursday night and displayed home run power for the Rockies on the road as well as at home. No one can replace Michael Harris, but Atlanta Braves have quality defenders to fill in until Harris returns.