Through the first half of the Prospect League season, there has not been a plethora of bright spots for the Quincy Gems.

Bradley Harrison has been the exception.

Through the first half of the Prospect League season, there has not been a plethora of bright spots for the Quincy Gems.

Bradley Harrison has been the exception.

The soon-to-be sophomore at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, boasts a batting average of .303 entering play on Wednesday -- good for third on the team.

The average may not look all too impressive to the casual fan, but Harrison’s entered the summer with a unique situation.

During his freshman campaign at SIU, he only received seven plate appearances.

The majority of Harrison’s playing time in the spring came on the mound, where he tossed 26 innings for the Saluki’s.

But this summer, Harrison wanted to sharpen his skills at the plate.

“I am a two-way player but my main focus (this summer) is to get a lot of at bats and get used to seeing pitching again,” he admitted. “I just want to take advantage of bad pitches, hitting hangers and really just try and stay fresh and get in that groove before going back for my sophomore season.”

Despite the Gems need for quality pitching this summer, Harrison has strictly been used as an everyday positional player.

Gems owner Jimmie Louthan mentioned he is just happy to have Harrison on the roster.

“When we first signed him we thought he would be a two-way player for us too,” the owner explained. “But honestly we just wanted him on the team. If he pitched he would probably be our No. 1 or No. 2. We knew his bat would be good enough that he would also be one of our top bats in the lineup as well.”

Harrison’s 40 hits in 35 games is second on the team to Dalton Schumer’s 49 base knocks. He leads the team with 17 doubles and his 22 runs batted in and 31 runs scored is also second behind Schumer in both categories.

The Gems on the field manager, Adam Hightower, is not surprised by the production from Harrison.

“We knew coming in he would be able to hit,” Hightower noted. “He is one of those guys who could probably take five months away  from the game and still step up and take an at bat and still put together a good game.”

Harrison also offers flexibility for Hightower -- not only in the field but also in the lineup. He has started games at first base, numerous outfield spots and also used as a designated hitter.

“We can do a lot of different things with him,” the Gems coach said. “He offers a ton of value to our team.”

In high school, Harrison was a middle of the order hitter. This summer he has been plugged in numerous spots in the lineup, including batting leadoff.

“This is the first time in my playing career I have consistently batted leadoff,” Harrison said of his new spot in the Gems order of late. “I am not a speed guy. I just kind of like line drives and try and find ways to get on base.”

Although the lead-off spot is relatively new to Harrison, he knows how to attack pitchers all the same.

“Batting leadoff you know you are going to see a lot of fastballs early on,” he explained. “Pitchers are going to try and establish their fastball. Some lead-off guys are more comfortable taking more pitches, but if I know I am going to get a fastball first pitch I might as well go get it.”

His coach doesn’t mind the aggressive approach.

“He does a great job of barrelling it (the ball) pretty consistently,” Hightower said. “So when he leads off for us I don’t mind him swinging at the first pitch of the game. He is the type of hitter who always has a plan at the plate. He knows what he is doing up there and he is very baseball savvy. With the talent he has, he has a very bright future.”

In the meantime, Harrison would like to not only continue his growth at the plate, but also see his summer team pick up a few more wins.

“The goal (rest of this summer) is to just try and keep getting better to where I can be a pitcher and DH type next year (at SIU) and maybe get some time in the field and squeeze my way into the lineup a little more,” he said. “But I also don’t want to be selfish. It would be nice if we (Gems) can scratch off some wins. It’s been a rough patch so far. Summer ball you have your individual goals, but but you still want to win. Baseball is not fun when you are not winning.”

The Gems enter play Wednesday night with a league-worst 11-26 record.