BOWIE, Maryland – K.J. Harrison grew up in the 50th state, where his father, Kenny, played Division I baseball for Hawaii.
His family knew the father of Kolten Wong, also a native of Hawaii, who was a first-round draft pick of the Cardinals in 2011 and is now an infielder for the Brewers.
When it was time for Harrison to play in college, he headed off the island and played for Oregon State.
As a junior, he was teammates there with Adley Rutschman, who was then a freshman.
“He was an unbelievable athlete,” Harrisburg infielder Harrison said this week of Rutschman, one of the top catching prospects in the minors with Baltimore. “He had all of the tools.”
Rutschman was assigned to Double-A Bowie on Tuesday as part of his rehab assignment and was able to connect with Harrison during the series here.
In 2017, Harrison was drafted in the third round by the Brewers out of Oregon State.
He joined the Washington system after the 2018 season and played the next year for Single-A Hagerstown and Potomac.
Last year he was third among minor leaguers with the Nationals with a slugging percentage of .450 and he hit 14 homers with an average of .243 for Harrisburg.
“It is awesome,” Harrison said of being part of the series in Bowie between the Nationals and Orioles. “It is a good ballpark” at Prince George’s Stadium.
Harrison got off to a quick start at the plate.
He hit two homers on April 8 at Altoona in the first series of the year.
In games through Wednesday, he was hitting .273 with three homers and an OPS of .849 with Harrisburg.
He has been impressed by right-handed pitcher Cole Henry, who didn’t allow a run in his first 13 innings of work this year with Harrisburg.
“He has a big arm. He is a very aggressive pitcher,” said Harrison, sitting in the stands near the bullpen down the left-field line before Tuesday’s game in Bowie.
Henry was slated to start at Bowie in a Thursday afternoon game.
The Senators lost 10-7 on Wednesday despite 16 hits – including three from outfielder Jack Dunn at the No. 9 spot in the order.
K.J. stands for Kainoa John. His father played in the minors for the Pirates and Twins.
Harrison was 0-for-5 with a run scored in a day game Thursday as Harrisburg won 6-1 at Bowie. His average fell to .254.
Starter Cole Henry gave up one run in 2.2 innings with five walks and four strikeouts.
Henry now has an ERA of 0.57 this year while reliever Andrew Lee got the win with three scoreless innings.
HOUSE GOES ON THE SHELF:
Brady House, a first-round draft pick last year by the Nationals, went on the Injured List for unknown reasons on Wednesday with the Single-A Fredericksburg Nationals.
House is hitting .326 with two homers and 24 RBI in just 89 at-bats. He is among the leaders in the minors in RBI but will miss all of the series this week at Lynchburg.
Jeremy De La Rosa hit his fifth homer of the year Wednesday as Fredericksburg won 4-2 at Lynchburg, the Cleveland farm team in Virginia.
Right-hander Jackson Rutledge, a top pitching prospect, was reinstated from the Injured List on Wednesday by Fredericksburg and was slated to pitch Thursday.
Rutledge, in his first start of the year, allowed seven hits and five earned runs in three innings for Fredericksburg on Thursday, in the first game of a doubleheader.
He had two walks and three strikeouts and threw 59 pitches, with 36 strikes.
He was trailing 5-4 when he departed the game.
FOX REPORTS TO ROCHESTER:
With Dee Strange-Gordon coming off the Injured List earlier this week, the Nationals sent infielder Lucius Fox to Triple-A Rochester to make room for Strange-Gordon on the major league roster.
Fox is 2-for-25 this year with the Nationals. The Red Wings were 14-11 through Wednesday.
Single-A Wilmington lost 8-6 at home to Bowling Green on Wednesday as leadoff man Darren Baker, son of Dusty, started at second base and was 1-for-4.
Baker fanned three times as his average fell to .291.
Shortstop Jordy Barley, batting ninth, was 0-for-4 and his average fell to .162.
The Blue Rocks were 11-12 going into Thursday action.
THIS DATE IN HISTORY:
From baseball-reference.com for May 6, 2010: “Scott Olsen of the Washington Nationals, who started the year in the minors after undergoing shoulder surgery the previous July, retires 22 of the first 23 Braves batters he faces, until David Ross breaks up his no-hit bid with a one-out single in the 8th. The Braves then proceed to tie the score at 2-all, but the Nats score a run in the bottom of the 9th on a pinch-hit single by Willie Harris with the bases loaded and none out. Tyler Clippard is credited with the 3 - 2 win.”