David Harris never had to push his sons.
In fact, Dylan, Dustin and Dakota were always pushing him.
“They were always coming to me and like, ‘Dad, let’s go shag balls or come throw us BP (batting practice),’” the patriarch Harris recalls. “So it’s fun to be around that and to see them out here (coaching) — all the years coaching them, it’s now great to see them do a little coaching, too.”
The Harris brothers had a three-day baseball camp at Wesley Chapel District Park, with about 45 youth, middle school and high school-aged players in attendance. The three ball-playing brothers brought a wealth of knowledge they each have gained, both collegiately and professionally, since being standout players at Land O’ Lakes High.
“Just having the three of us in town, we don’t really have that anymore,” said Dylan, the oldest brother. “Even our dad being able to take off work and help out — it’s been a great three days having us all out here.”
“It is rare for us all to be together, but it was great to work together and bring what we know about baseball to some of these local kids,” added Dustin, the middle brother.
“I think having the kids out here and teaching them what our dad taught us, there’s nothing like it,” concluded Dakota, the youngest brother. “It’s where you’re quote unquote working, but it doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing what you love — baseball.”
Each Harris brother has found his own level of success since graduating from Land O’ Lakes. Dylan (2013) went on to play in college at Nova Southeastern and Saint Leo University, before spending a few years in the Cincinnati Reds minor leagues.
Dustin (2017) is now an outfielder on the Texas Rangers 40-man roster, meaning he will be headed to their Spring Training Camp in 2023. He’s coming off an incredible season that included 17 homers for the Frisco RoughRiders, the Double-A affiliate for the Rangers. He also went 2-for-3 with an RBI in the MLB Futures game: the all-star showcase for the top prospects in the minor leagues.
And Dakota (2020) is headed to the University of Oklahoma as switch-hitting shortstop after a stellar year at Polk State. He was named the National Junior College Athletic Association co-Defensive Player of the Year and earned a Rawlings Junior College Gold Glove thanks to a .973 fielding percentage, committing just four errors in 150 chances and assisting on 28 double plays.
Dakota also had a .347 avg., 36 RBI, nine doubles and five homers at the plate and stole 15 bases.
What makes all this even more impressive is that while being scouted and recruited at Land O’ Lakes, the three brothers had very little in the way of college offers or draft potential.
“Well,” said David, a former minor league ballplayer for the then California Angels, “it was partially (late) growth spurts and partially hard work and then the competition between brothers didn’t hurt either. Dylan started it off and the other two wanted to emulate that.”
“I’ve been fortunate to have the year I had,” said Dustin, who was drafted in the 11th round by the Oakland A’s in the 2019 draft and acquired by the Rangers in 2020 for a player to be named later. “I was undersized (coming out of high school), but that just left a chip on my shoulder. After that, I just put in the time and work, and it paid off.”
Dakota definitely wanted to emulate a brother.
“Once Dustin got drafted out of a junior college, I knew that’s what I wanted to do — sign with a juco (junior college),” Dakota said. “That way I was able to play right away out of high school and that paid off, too.”
For now, the Harris brothers will enjoy being together in their hometown, before Dustin heads to Arizona to start preparing for Spring Training and Dakota heads to Norman, Oklahoma, to start his first season for the Sooners in February.
They considered the camp a success. They were able to pass on their collective baseball knowledge, but didn’t have to push the kids too hard.
“We have the knowledge, combined, from different schools and organizations that we can pass on,” Dylan said. “Baseball is definitely my passion and I’m still around it even though I’m not playing anymore. … It was 100% very cool to be around (my brothers) again.”
“We’d been talking about something like (this camp) for a while,” Dustin said. “I think it was a good showing. I learned a lot about coaching, too, and about how to teach kids the way to do things in baseball.”
“I mean, it’s baseball, and we love it,” Dakota added. “Dad has always been hitting us ground balls and pitching us BP, but it’s also brothers helping each other out. It’s great to be able to get either of them on the phone and just talk baseball for advice to the next at bat.
“That’s how it is for brothers in baseball.”
The Harris Brothers High School Career Batting Stats
Dylan Harris – Class of 2013
.397 avg., 89 hits, 76 runs, 41 RBI, 21 doubles, three triples, five home runs
Dustin Harris – Class of 2017
.415 avg., 68 hits, 50 runs, 28 RBI, 10 doubles, five triples
Dakota Harris – Class of 2020
.304 avg., 55 hits, 50 runs, 34 RBI, 13 doubles
Published December 28, 2022