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AP photo by Bob Andres / Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Harris II, front right, gets a welcome hug from shortstop Dansby Swanson before making his MLB debut in Saturday's home game against the Miami Marlins.

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves, looking to upgrade their outfield, called up top prospect Michael Harris from Class AA Mississippi on Saturday.

The 21-year-old started in center field and hit ninth in the afternoon game against the Miami Marlins, which wound up as a 4-1 loss for the Braves as Sandy Alcantara dominated to the tune of 14 strikeouts in eight innings. The first trip to the plate for Harris came in the third inning, when he looked at ball one before going down on three swinging strikes.

His next chance came in the sixth, and after fouling off on a 2-0 count, he delivered an opposite-field single to left with one out. Ronald Acuña Jr.'s single moved him over to third, and then Harris scored on a groundout by Dansby Swanson — getting to the plate before Acuña, who had stolen second, was caught trying to get to third.

In a report on the Braves' MLB.com website after the game, Harris talked about that first hit.

"It was good to do that, especially against a very talented pitcher," said Harris, who earlier this month was in Chattanooga to play a Southern League series against the Lookouts. "I was just staying within myself and trying not to do too much. I'm glad I got that out of the way."

He wound up 1-for-3 in his debut after grounding out to lead off the bottom of the ninth.

While he did score Atlanta's lone run and had one of just five hits by the Braves, his bigger impact early will likely be in the field. The addition of Harris allows the Braves to move Adam Duvall from center to one of the corner spots in the outfield.

Before the game, when asked how Harris can help the Braves, manager Brian Snitker said, "Well, just the defensive part of it."

"We wouldn't have brought him up if we didn't think he could help us come up and win games," Snitker said. "I mean, we're trying to win games."

Harris played at Class A Rome in 2021 and has never played at the Triple-A level. Snitker usually is reluctant to rush a player to the majors but said he believes Harris "a guy who checks all the boxes."

"Just he's a very impressive kid, and I enjoy watching him and being around him and getting to know him," Snitker said. "He's a quality kid."

Snitker envisions an outfield with Acuña in right, Harris in center and Duvall in left. That would allow Marcell Ozuna, who started in left on Saturday, to serve as the primary designated hitter.

Acuña, making a comeback from knee surgery, was the designated hitter and hit leadoff on Saturday. Acuña missed three consecutive starts due to a strained right quadriceps before coming off the bench for a pinch-hit double in Atlanta's 6-4 win over Miami on Friday night.

"It's going to be fun," Harris said of the chance to play beside Acuña. "I'm really excited to see how that goes. I'm really excited to be here and have fun with the guys."

Travis Demeritte, who snapped an 0-for-34 slump with a run-scoring single Friday night, was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. Demeritte was hitting .213 with three homers this season.

After the game, Snitker said he expects Harris to remain in the lineup.

The 6-foot, 195-pound Harris played at Stockbridge High School in metro Atlanta. Former Braves outfielder Jason Heyward also is from Henry County. Harris said he was often was compared with Heyward, now with the Chicago Cubs, as he developed as a prospect.

"As I grew people were comparing me to him and saying I reminded them of him," Harris said. "It really opened my eyes and gave me a lot of confidence."

Harris was hitting .305 with five home runs, 33 RBIs and 11 stolen bases at Mississippi. He said he was told of his promotion after Friday night's game in Pensacola, Florida, leading to a night with little sleep and a flight to Atlanta.

Harris added it was a surreal feeling to walk into the Braves' clubhouse and see his name on a jersey at his locker.

"Nothing can really match the moment actually being here," he said. "You can always dream about it. But actually being here, I don't think anything tops it at all."

His family attended the game, and his parents were interviewed during the Bally Sports telecast, with his mother saying this had been her son's dream "since he was 3" and that he "slept with a bat and a ball all the time and would always get in trouble for throwing the ball around the house. But it paid off."

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