Monday, July 4, 2011

Bryce Harper, Nationals Phenom, Promoted to AA Ball on Fourth of July

Bryce Harper will make his Class-AA debut tonight with the Harrisburg Senators of the Eastern League after being promoted today.

The top draft pick in the 2010 MLB draft, Harper has been brought along rather slowly by the Nationals organization despite the $9.9 million five-year contract he signed.

In Class-A ball at Hagerstown, Harper was batting .318 with 14 home runs, 46 RBIs, and 19 stolen bases in 72 games.  These offensive numbers made it difficult for the organization to not promote him this summer.

However, the Nationals are more concerned with Harper's development in other areas of the the game.  They know he can hit, but his defense in right field has needed work.  Prior to being drafted, Harper played most of his career at catcher, highlighting his strong arm.  However, now he must learn how to position himself in the field for various batters, as well as how/when to hit the cut-off man.

General Manager, Tom Rizzo, said this of Harper:
 "The batting average was there," Rizzo said. "And the power, offensive production numbers are there, but a lot more goes into it than that. He's a work in progress in his baserunning, his base stealing,  his defensive play, the small intricate parts of the game. We feel he's progressed to the point where we want to see him do that at the next level."
Despite the outstanding offensive play so far, the Nationals plan on keeping Harper in Class-AA ball for the rest of the season, and possibly start him at Class-AAA ball next season before they will consider promoting him to the Big Show.

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