In The Mag's MLB Draft Preview, Jeff Bradley wrote about Mitch Harris, a RP from the Naval Academy who, on talent alone, was considered worthy of a selection in the first five rounds of the draft. His draft status, however, was clouded by the fact that, like all graduates of the Naval Academy, Harris had signed a five-year service agreement to begin soon after graduation.
The Cardinals selected Harris in the 13th round, and while that might appear pedestrian, keep in mind that one famous Cardinal was also a 13th-round pick: Albert Pujols.
Harris was hoping to reach a compromise similar to the one reached by Army football player Caleb Campbell, which allowed Campbell to pursue a career with the Detroit Lions for two years while serving at a recruiting station. If Campbell remains in pro football beyond those two years, he can buy out his remaining three years of service time in exchange for six years in the reserves following the end of his pro career.
The Navy, however, had refused to negotiate any such compromise. And yesterday, they appeared to close the door on the issue.
"Bottom line is, we're a nation at war and as a nation at war we believe it is inappropriate for Navy and Marine Corps personnel to be released from service obligation to play sports at a time other sailors and Marines are carrying out their service obligations," Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a Navy spokesman, told the Associated Press.
Which means that Harris will report to training sessions next week in Norfolk, Va., for his job a weapons officer on the USS Ponce. After two weeks of training, the Mount Holly, N.C., native will begin his active duty and could be shipped abroad.
The newly-graduated Navy officer, who has remained diplomatic throughout the process, sounded disappointed when reached by the Gaston Gazette, in Gastonia, N.C.
"Of course we're at war, no one can argue we're not," Harris told the paper. "But what I've said from the beginning is that I'm not trying to get out of anything. If I don't get that chance (to play baseball) right now, I'll never get it again. And to fulfill a goal of getting to the pros, it's sad that they would take it away from me."
He also told the paper that if the Cardinals were to sign him, they assured him he would receive a contract equivalent to that of a fourth-or-fifth-round selection, which would have meant a signing bonus of at least $150,000. Because he will be unable to play for five years, Harris said the Cardinals will likely not offer him a contract.