Monday, January 3, 2011

Bryce Harper to Make the Majors in 2011?

This morning, Network Site posted a story hinting that Bryce Harper has the potential to make the Nats roster out of Spring Training in 2011. (Pitchers and catchers report in only 41 days!)

Let me start by staying, I don't think it's absolutely out of the question that this could happen. It would be hard to argue with placing Harper on the Opening Day roster if he hits .300 and 10-15 homers in Spring Training against real Major League pitching.

There have been a few players in the modern era to make the majors before his 20th birthday with success, so it wouldn't be unprecedented. Although, I'm not sure Harper wants to model himself after Alex Rodriguez (see: steroids). But regardless of what Harper is able to do with the bat, there is a significant amount of development left for the immensely talented 18 year old.

Despite Harper's proficiency with the bat in front of the junior college circuit and a short stint of major league pitching, it will take months to determine how he will adjust to Major League pitching and continue to evolve at the plate. It's an easier road to climb to try to do that while working up through the minors, rather than being thrown into the majors immediately.

As a fielder, Harper has played several positions throughout his young career. During his short time with the College of Southern Nevada though, he was predominantly a catcher. The Nationals drafted him as an outfielder, and he will need time to develop those skills as well.

Bryce Harper is an unbelievably talented, young baseball player, and the organization is rightly excited about his arrival in DC. But there's no reason to rush Harper's development when he could take his time and truly become the player everyone expects him to be come, and do it the right way. I think Mike Rizzo and Co. recognize that. It seems unlikely that Harper will break camp with the Big Nats, though it will sure be fun to watch him crank home runs over the space shuttles in Viera.


  1. Sorry, I saw Ladson write something similar and it just won't happen out of Spring Training just like Stephen Strasburg last year.

    Maybe as a June call-up like Strasburg which is still unlikely, but if he does real well in the Minors in 2011 the first time we see him will be as a September callup when rosters are expanded.

    The Minor League development for Bryce Harper will be important for his defense in the outfield as much as anything as well as his development in the system.

    Harper turns 19 years old during the Post Season 2011. The big question will be if he starts off in Washington on Opening Day 2012 like Jason Heyward did or is a June callup like Mike Stanton. To me, that may be the topic we will debate most at this time next year!

  2. I think that the only way he breaks camp with the team is if the team is so dreadfully terrible during the grapefruit league, that no one will want to buy tickets to see the Nats during the season. In this way, he would sell lots of tickets.

  3. Joe - Your link of the Network Site story is a partial excerpt credited back to none other than Bill Ladson. Bryce Harper has as much chance of being on the 2011 Opening Day roster in Washington as Eury Perez!

    How can a responsible Nationals journalist wrtie that? Steve M. above hit all the scenarios and it still is based on Bryce Harper performing at levels that would warrant the promotions!

    3. When will Bryce Harper make his big league debut?
    Harper is projected to be in the Majors by 2013, but, thus far, the 18-year old has proven he could play with professionals. He wasn't over matched in the instructional league or the Arizona Fall League. He will be in Major League Spring Training and will face big league pitching for the first time.

    It wouldn't come as a surprise if Harper played well and made the team out of Spring Training. It can be done. Remember Al Kaline? He made his Major League debut at the age of 18 and went on to have a Hall of Fame career.

  4. @Anon - "How can a responsible Nationals journalist wrtie that?"

    It is NOT a responsible journalist. It's Ladson. To call the man a hack is to give a bad name to hacks everywhere. Does he REALLY not realize that the economics of baseball have dramatically changed since Al Kaline's time? Actually, I wouldn't bet on it.

    Absolute best case for Harper is he has a sizzling spring, lights it up at Potomac in April, does the same at Harrisburg in May and gets called up in June like Strasburg did. But even that is unlikely. The team will certinly want to see how he handles it when he has his first slump as a professional before having him face major league pitching.

    I would bet on September, but ONLY if he has an outstanding year in the minors. If he struggles at all, don't bet on seeing him until next year at the earliest, and then likely after Opening Day to set his free agency clock back yet one additional year.

  5. Steve M. et al, I embarrased for NatsTown that Ladson's story was posted to that site so others can think we are ALL idiots here. It is down right sad that Ladson would contradict Rizzo clearly stating already that Bryce Harper was to start in "A" ball.

    Steve M. and Anon gave all the reasonable scenarios for seeing Bryce Harper playing in the Majors.

    How embarassing!

  6. Maybe Ladson should read this article from November:

    "I would assume [Harper] starts in Hagerstown," Rizzo said. "That could change. If the minor league season opened today, it would be Hagerstown. I think he needs to start in a comfortable position for him and succeed and move on."

  7. Al Kaline did all of his learning in the majors on that Tiger's team. Rizzo prefers to use the minors for instruction and the pro's for performance. If he proves his performance warrants it there is no reason to keep Harper off of the major league roster other than the ticking clock toward free agency. Which wasn't a problem in Al Kaline's time.

  8. I personally think he needs a good year of riding the bus so that his head stays on straight - maybe even more important than honing his baseball skills. He comes from a good family but has been pretty sheltered by them.

  9. I agree with bdrube, I think the organization will want to see how he handles himself in the minors when pitchers start adjusting to him.

    Even minor leaguers look at video. Hundreds of eyes will be breaking down his swing, looking for holes, seeing which pitches he likes, noticing which pitches he chases and on which counts, seeing what he can do against professional-caliber curveballs and sliders.

    How he re-adjusts to pitchers' inevitable adjustment to him will tell us what kind of hitter he is. At age 18, it's better that he figures this out against AA pitchers to start off, rather than Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.