High School : : General
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Harrison: PG's 'Marathon Man'

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game USA

The lengthy list Travis Harrison could print out and tuck into the back of his baseball pants reads like a Perfect Game travelogue that tracks events dating back more than five years.

The destinations stretch from the coasts-to-coast, although most are located in Harrison’s native state of California.

2005 SoCA Pre-High Showcase; ’06 Valencia Pre-High School; ’07 2009 Grads National; ’07 West Freshman Top Prospect; ’08 California Upperclass; ’08 California All-Star Games; ’08 Sunshine West …

There are showcases, tournaments and all-star games on the list, beginning in 2005 and continuing through 2010, with more possibly to come this year.

When they are added up there is little question that Harrison, an 18-year-old senior at Tustin (Calif.) High School in Southern California, would be hailed as PG’s “Marathon Man.” Now recognized as one of the top high school prospects in the class of 2011 (he’s ranked No. 17 nationally by PG), at latest count Harrison had attended 28 Perfect Game events since the age of 13.

He has probably performed in front of more PG scouts than anyone in the history of the organization, and he’s been playing in front of national scouts and college coaches for a long time now.

“No one even knew my name when I was a freshman or sophomore and I was playing with guys who are going through what I am going through right now,” Harrison said in a late April telephone interview with PG. “The scouts were around looking at them and the first couple of times, yeah, I was really nervous. But it allowed me to get used to it, so I’ve been used to it for three or four years now.”

Harrison is a 6-2, 215-pound right-handed power hitting third baseman and outfielder who in 2010 smashed a 504-foot home run in a power showcase at Tropicana Field. He has spent the spring playing for his Tustin High team, and was hitting .547 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in Tustin’s 19 games played through April 20.

Harrison firmly believes it was the interaction with older and more talented players and other experiences he enjoyed at his early PG events helped speed his development.

“It’s been beneficial because it’s allowed me to play against the best players more often. The more I can do that, the more it helps,” he said. “When I go to (Perfect Game) events, that’s who I compete against and that’s what makes me keep getting better and better.

“I love watching really good players play (and) I love watching people do certain things that they can do so well.”

Harrison has played with the Southern California-based powerhouse ABD Bulldogs travel team and Coach Mike Spiers for four years and his association with ABD took him to 10 PG WWBA tournaments.

“Mike Spiers brought me into all the Perfect Game showcases and tournaments at a young age, and I was able to play against guys when I was three years younger than them,” Harrison said. “I owe (Spiers) and Perfect Game a lot of thank-yous because that just helped me a lot.”

In an interview last September, Spiers told PG: “We try to go to the tournaments that are going to give the best exposure to the players. Whether it’s the Perfect Game World Championship or their national championships … those are the events our teams are going to.”

… ’08 WWBA 2008 Grads or 18U National Championship; ’08 WWBA 2009 Grads or 17U National Championship; ’08 2010 Grads National; ’08 Perfect Game at Aflac; ’09 California Underclass; ’09 Sunshine West; ’09 Junior National …

Harrison has signed a national letter-of-intent at the University of Southern California and has garnered some attention in regard to the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft June 6-8. PG director of scouting David Rawnsley projects him as a late first round or compensation round selection.

“I always wanted to play baseball in college and in the pros, and it’s always been my dream,” Harrison said. “I always just kept working at it and as I got older I realized I could have a shot at doing what I wanted to do.”

Harrison ultimately decided on USC because of its proximity to his home in Aliso Viejo, Calif. He also really liked the USC coaching staff and Dedeaux Field, the stadium located just minutes from downtown Los Angeles where the Trojans play their home games.

And then there was the academic side of things.

“Living in Southern California, getting that degree from the University of Southern California is the most valuable one that you can have here,” Harrison said. “If baseball doesn’t work out I’ll have that (degree) with me and I’ll be very happy with that.”

… ’09 WWBA 2009 Grads or 18U National Championship; ’09 WWBA 2010 Grads or 17U National Championship; ’09 2011 Grads National; ’09 Perfect Game at Aflac; ’09 PG National Championship (Upperclass); ’09 PG National Championship (Underclass); ’09 WWBA World Championship …

Harrison’s busiest year with Perfect Game was 2009 when he attended 10 events, including the WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., with the ABD Bulldogs. Seven events followed in 2010, including his first appearance at the prestigious Perfect Game National Showcase, an invitation to the Aflac All-American Classic and a return trip to the WWBA World Championship with ABD.

Conversation linking Harrison and the 2011 draft has been out there for some time but Harrison refuses to get ahead of himself.

“I’ve heard good things about where I might go, but right now I’m really just focused on USC and I’m really excited to go there,” he said. “If someone took me really high we (his family) would consider it, and if not I wouldn’t be disappointed at all. I would love to go play at USC and win the national championship.”

Harrison played basketball up until his sophomore year in high school but left it behind to concentrate on baseball. He soon began climbing higher in PG’s national rankings and the spotlight grew brighter, especially after playing in the Aflac All-American game.

“A lot of people talk to me and ask me how stressful it is, but to me it’s baseball. Baseball is fun and I’ve always just loved it,” he said. “I don’t get stressed at all about the draft or college because there’s nothing stressful about it. I’m doing what I love to do, and whatever happens is going to happen.”

… ’10 California Underclass; ’10 National, ’10 WWBA 18U National Championship; ’10 WWBA 17U National Championship; ’10 Aflac All-American Classic; ’10 PG/EvoShield National Championship (Upper); ’10 WWBA World Championship.

Those 28 PG events are now behind Harrison, and his point of emphasis this spring is leading the Tustin Tillers to a California Interscholastic Federation section title (California does not crown an overall state champion). He also plans on kicking back a little.

“Right now I’m focusing on getting the team to the playoffs … but also just being a senior in high school and hanging out with friends,” he said. “You can get a balance, working out every single day but also having time to enjoy it and not be stressed out over anything.

“I’ve got graduation and prom and stuff like that seniors in high school get to go through, and I love doing that stuff with my friends.”

PG’s “Marathon Man” seems to have found his comfort zone.


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