Trey Harris is always wearing a smile. He does it because he knows baseball can be brutal, that it can be a downright grind over the course of a season.
Lately, the No. 26 Braves prospect has seen his smile grow a little wider, recently earning a promotion to Double-A Mississippi.
"It's been a whirlwind, to say the least," Harris said. "There have been a lot of adjustments, but I'm going with the flow, figuring out the routine."
He learned of his promotion right after he helped the Class A Advanced Florida Fire Frogs pick up a 6-0 win over Palm Beach on July 17. Harris came through with a pair of hits in the victory.
Less than two months ago, the 23-year-old outfielder was with Class A Rome. Now, here he was, a 32nd-round pick of the Braves in 2018, taking the next step on his road to Major League Baseball.
"It's crazy to think about," Harris said. "I called my parents, smiling ear to ear, and then the panic set in. I started packing. I was trying to figure out flights and how I was going to get to the field for the game the next day. Once things settled down, it's been a blessing. I've enjoyed every minute of it.
He made his debut with the M-Braves on July 18 in a game against Pensacola and failed to get a hit. Harris managed a pair of hits in each of his next two games. He's settled back into being the hitter that has carried him up three levels in a single season.
"It's always nice when you get that first hit," Harris said. "Just that first at-bat is a big deal. You get a feel for the game. But I'm not counting my eggs before they hatch. I know this game is hard. I'm just going to keep grinding and working and get more comfortable each day."
For Harris, it's always been about keeping his foot on the gas pedal and refusing to take a day for granted.
2019 MiLB include
He sports a .342/.417/.533 slash line in 94 games this season. In Mississippi, he's batting .333, racking up four hits, including a double, and driving in two runs. His success is in part a credit to his talent as well as the chip on his shoulder that comes with being a guy who expected to go in the first two rounds out of the University of Missouri, only to end up waiting much longer than expected for his name to be called.
"I'm a late-round pick. There isn't a lot of money invested in me," Harris said. "I understand I have to stay hungry. My motto has been to stay up and stay hungry and stay above the rest of the field. I know there is always more to get.
It's why he sets the expectations for himself so high.
"Some guys set goals to be somewhat high but miss, and then they are back to average. I set my goals real high and want to reach them, and if I miss them, I'm still in a good spot," Harris said. "This is a business and I have to make sure I do all I can to not give anyone a reason to keep me from making it to The Show."
Getting drafted by the Braves was a dream come true for the Georgia native. As a child, he attended games in Rome and often went to watch Atlanta play at Turner Field. He knew quite a bit about the M-Braves as well because of family he has in Mississippi.
"It is one of those lucky, happy moments to say I play for the Atlanta Braves [organization]," Harris said. "It's something I've always dreamed about. I hope to make it come full circle."
Harris prides himself on being the player who makes others around him better, as well as being the player who wants to make sure he leaves the park each night knowing his uniform is as dirty as it can be.
"I want to leave the field as dirty as I can. I don't care how it gets done," Harris said.
While at Missouri, he had a chance to play a game against the Georgia Bulldogs at SunTrust Park. He hit a home run that day. He figured at the time it might be his only chance to ever play at the new home of the Braves. Now he knows he's a little bit closer to making it happen again.
"To play there, being from Atlanta, that was a dream come true. I wanted to soak it up as much as I could," Harris said. "But the fact that I might get the opportunity to do it again at a later date, it's an amazing and blessed feeling. Obviously, I have to do my part and a lot goes into that, but even just having that slight chance to play there is amazing to think about."
Seventh heaven: Sixto Sanchez pitched seven scoreless innings in Jacksonville's 2-0 win over Biloxi on Tuesday night. Sanchez threw just 76 pitches and struck out nine. It's the third consecutive start the Dominican Republic native has won and the fourth time in his last six outings that he's gone seven innings.
Streak is over: Chattanooga has been stuck in a horrible slump, dropping 14 consecutive games. But the streak ended Monday with a 3-2 win over Birmingham. Gavin LaValley drove in the winning run. The string of bad fortune began July 5 with an 8-4 loss to Jackson, one of eight losses by four or more runs.