UC athletics hall of famer and current Pittsburg Pirate Josh Harrison meets with coaches and players from the current UC baseball team before the second game of the series against conference rival UConn Saturday April 9, 2016 at Marge Schott Stadium. 

While all the focus on former UC baseball players in the pros has been on Ian Happ, Bearcat alumnus Josh Harrison is putting together a productive year in his age-32 season.

After being released by the Philadelphia Phillies in July, Harrison reached a one-year deal with the defending world champion Washington Nationals. 

The seasoned veteran has slotted in for the Nationals as a role-playing utility man. In 23 of the Nationals’ 47 contests, Harrison has appeared while starting 14 games at five different positions. 

Harrison has made the most of his opportunities, batting .269 with an on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) of .814, .70 points higher than the league average.

He has seen more playing time of late, getting action in all six of the Nationals’ games last week. Despite Harrison’s steady presence, the defending champs have slid to last place in the National League East with an 18-29 record.   

A native of Cincinnati, Harrison played for UC from 2006-2008. For his career as a Bearcat, Harrison ranks in the top five of qualified players for batting average (.358), runs (192), hits (246), RBI’s (153), doubles (53) and stolen bases (63).

In his final year in the red and black, Harrison was named the Big East Co-Player of the year and earned Second-Team All-American honors. 

After finishing his career at UC, he was drafted in the sixth round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs, which drafted this year’s Bearcat alum breakout Ian Happ.

The following year, he was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates, a move that paid dividends for the Cubs’ central division foe. Harrison made his MLB debut for the Pirates in 2011. His breakout season came in 2014 when he appeared in a career-high 143 games and was named an all-star.

The Pirates that season went to the National League Wild Card game, where they fell to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants. 

The product of Princeton High School ended the season with a .315 batting average and finished ninth in the voting for the National League Most Valuable Player. Three years later in 2017, he turned a productive season into the second all-star game selection of his career. 

A fixture in the Pirates’ lineup from 2014-2017, Harrison batted .290 over that span while providing flexibility in the field, spending time at second base, shortstop, third base, right field and left field.

After eight years with the Pirates, Harrison agreed to a one-year deal with the Detroit Tigers before the 2019 season. After being limited to just 36 games while battling injuries, he was released by the club in August of that season. 

He then signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies in November of 2019 and was invited to their Spring Training. Harrison requested his release from the Phillies in late July. After the team granted his request, he reached his deal with the Nationals less than a week later.