Patience or Panic: Jackson Chourio, Michael Harris II, and Evan Carter

What should we do with these struggling players?

The proverbial April showers have brought us the May flowers, and the MLB season is now about 33% over as the calendar soon turns to June. Slow “starts” are no longer just starts but meaningful samples that have us wondering if struggling players will return to form this season. With two months of the season completed, it’s also important to realize that there are players who may have started well but have since fallen off. Their strong early numbers may be buoying their entire line even if they haven’t played well in weeks. With that in mind, today I will cover a trio of young, highly-touted outfielders with high draft prices (top 150) who have struggled immensely.


Jackson Chourio, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Season (through 5/27): .218/.263/.340 (72 wRC+), 20 R, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 7 SB

Since 4/16: .196/.241/.284 (50 wRC+), 13 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 4 SB


The uber-talented Chourio, who inked an eight-year deal with the Brewers in the offseason before ever appearing in an MLB game, earned an Opening Day roster spot just weeks after his 20th birthday. He started the season as the club’s everyday RF and came out of the gates hot, posting 3 HR and 3 SB in his first 13 games while leading off six times. Given the sky-high expectations for the top-5 prospect, everyone was understandably fired up about Chourio’s performance. But in the weeks since, the young gun has simply looked overmatched at the big-league level.

Since posting a combo meal (a homer and a steal) on April 15, Chourio’s wRC+ of 50 from April 16 to May 27 ranks seventh-worst among hitters with at least 100 PA. Chourio has an aggressive approach at the plate; he both swings (52%) and chases (35.8%) more than 80% of major league hitters. When you throw in the poor contact skills (70.1% Contact%, 23rd percentile), the Ks will pile up. Chourio is not hitting for enough power (.122 ISO, .347 xSLG) to make the 27.4% K% palatable.

Verdict: Panic. I have little doubt that Chourio will have a long and successful MLB career, but my outlook on him this season is pretty bleak. Chourio has started to lose some playing time against right-handed starters as the Brewers grind to keep their division lead in the NL Central. Milwaukee has opted to make Blake Perkins their everyday CF, so Chourio occasionally sits when Sal Frelick and Christian Yelich man the corners with Gary Sánchez at DH. Even when he is in the lineup, Chourio doesn’t hit any higher than 6th. As a result, his volume has taken a real hit, which is hard to stomach when combined with a poor batting average. Nothing in Chourio’s profile seems to suggest he is getting unlucky (.268 wOBA vs .269 xwOBA), so I’m comfortable selling him to an owner enamored with his prospect pedigree or the HR/SB upside. He could be a good buy-low candidate next year depending on how things evolve this season.


Michael Harris II, OF, Atlanta Braves

Season: .262/.300/.383 (93 wRC+), 23 R, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 8 SB

May: .205/.247/.284 (51 wRC+), 7 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 SB


Harris II isn’t struggling quite as much as the other two names on this list, but he was also drafted significantly higher than the others, going as a top-50 pick in many formats. The season-long line doesn’t look too bad, but the results in May have been pretty abysmal, and his runs and RBI have taken a real hit as a result. In May, Harris II posted a 4.3% BB% and 22.6% K%, rates nearly identical to his season-long figures of 4.3% and 22.4%.

Harris II was somewhat disappointing last year as a top-40 pick, as he had an impressive .293 AVG but meager counting stats in 138 games considering Atlanta’s incredible offense (76 R, 18 HR, 57 RBI, 20 SB). The price was lower this season, but Harris II has still failed to return value for managers so far.

As he has for his entire career, Harris II is struggling to lift the ball (23.1% FB%, 7th percentile), but a new development is that he hasn’t been able to hit the ball in the air with any authority. His 81.8 MPH average exit velocity on flyballs ranks in the 8th percentile and is a steep drop from his mark of 86.3 MPH in 2023. This has fueled career-low marks in xwOBA (.279) and xSLG (.346). On the bright side, Harris II has played in all 51 games this season for Atlanta after sitting occasionally against lefties in 2023.

Verdict: Patience. The power loss from Harris II is concerning, but there are other factors working in his favor. The first, as explained above, is the volume. The second is that he should move up in the lineup with the injury to Ronald Acuña Jr. Harris II hit 7th on Monday against Washington, but Atlanta was facing a lefty. I anticipate he will hit 5th or 6th against righties with the potential to take Acuña’s spot atop the lineup if he goes on a hot streak. I also like that he is continuing to run, which has him on pace for a 25-steal season. Harris is poised to continue as a five-category contributor for the rest of the season, and managers shouldn’t be too concerned about this slump in May.


Evan Carter, OF, Texas Rangers

Season: .188/.272/.361 (79 wRC+), 23 R, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 2 SB

May: .132/.193/.189 (78 wRC+), 5 R, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 0


This season has been full of slumps for Carter. He went hitless in his first 22 PA and has had an awful May in which he’s failed to hit a homer or attempt a stolen base. Funnily (or unfortunately) enough, Carter has also gone hitless in his last nine games, which have included 22 PA! Carter has fallen flat on his face after setting the league ablaze last year with a .306/.413/.645 line in 23 regular season games and a .300/.417/.500 line in 17 playoff games. Carter maintained a BABIP over .400 during both of those samples, which probably should’ve been the first sign that he was playing over his head.

Evan Carter, 2023 vs. 2024

Carter has been less of a three-true outcomes hitter this season in all respects. His otherworldly plate discipline from ’23 has gotten a bit worse, but his chase rate still ranks in the 95th percentile, so that’s not a red flag. I’m more concerned about the huge drops in his line drive rate and ICR, which seem to be fueling the huge drop in his xwOBA.

The normalization of his HR/FB% has also shown us what level of power is reasonable to expect from Carter, who has always struggled to consistently elevate the ball. He has never posted a flyball rate above 40% at any stop as a pro.

Verdict: Panic. To me, Carter is one of those players who will always be a better real-life hitter than in standard fantasy formats. This is because he walks a lot, has a low batting average floor, and doesn’t steal a ton of bags (5 SB in 237 career PA). Carter has fallen to 9th in the Rangers lineup and is also sitting against lefties. This will negatively impact his counting stats and leave managers disappointed with the line they see at the end of the season. The playing picture is only going to get more crowded with Wyatt Langford coming off the IL. While this will primarily hurt Ezequiel Duran, I could see Carter losing out on some volume as well. Keeper and dynasty managers should hold steady, but I would think about cutting Carter in 10-teamers and shopping him in deeper formats.

Patrick Fitzgerald

Patrick Fitzgerald is a Staff Writer for Pitcher List's fantasy team. He is an alum of Vassar College, where he pitched on the baseball team and studied economics and political science. Patrick is an avid O's fan and head-to-head fantasy baseball player (roto remains a work in progress).

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