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Nationals pick Bryce Harper

The Nationals have selected catcher/outfielder Bryce Harper, a 17-year-old power-hitting prodigy, with the first overall choice in baseball's first-year player draft. Nationals executives, sitting around a table, watched Commissioner Bud Selig announce the pick on television. Owner Mark Lerner watched from a corner of the room.

The Nationals officially listed Harper as an outfielder on a press release, an interesting disctinction given Harper played primarily catcher at the College of Southern Nevada.

UPDATE, 8:25: Here's some quick reaction from General Manager Mike Rizzo:

Opening statement: "The Nationals are very, very pleased to announce the first pick of the 2010 draft is Bryce Harper from College of Southern Nevada. We scouted Bryce very, very thoroughly throughout the last couple years. These two guys on the sides of me here [amateur scouting director Kris Kline and Vice President of Player Personnel Roy Clark] were instrumental in putting the board together. We're very proud and pleased that this particular player is going to become a member of the Washington Nationals family."

On Harper playing outfield: We made the early decision that we're going to take the rigors of playing the difficult position of catcher away from him and really let him concentrate on the offensive part of his game and let his athleticism take over as an outfielder. He's got above-average speed and a plus-plus throwing arm. We believe that he could pull off being a major league catcher. We believe his bat is far ahead of his defense as a catcher. We just think that it will accelerate his development in the minor leagues and extend his career as a major leaguer."

On where Harper will start in the minors: "He'll start at our lowest level, in the Gulf Coast League. We think that's a prudent way to get his feet on the ground in professional baseball. As I've said many, many times, the rigors of the professional game is really the first thing that a professional player has to overcome."

On what he learned with Stephen Strasburg that can be applied to Harper: "We're going to protect the player. We're going to limit access if we feel that it interferes with what we're trying to do. And we make no apologies for it. This is all about getting the player to maximize his development, to expedite his development in a careful, prudent, calculated way to get them to the right place at the right time."

Rizzo had said the Nationals "have hopes of getting him out and playing before Aug. 15." Given that Scott Boras represents Harper, he was asked how realistic that is: "We're going to put our best effort forward. We know that we have a player who wants to play. We've got a representative that we've dealt with successfully in the past. We're going to give our best effort on all sides."

On Harper's character and maturity: "There are no concerns about this player's makeup. We are sold on him, his family, the character of the player. He acts like a 17-year-old at times. I don't want to tell you what I did when I was 17. He's mature beyond his years as far as performance on the field, tools and development, and even his social skills. This guy has been through, he's had more publicity than most 25 year-olds. I think he's handled it remarkably. Between the lines, he's going 110 miles all the time. He's a baseball rat. I love the way he gets after it. ... We're satisfied and honored and excited to have this guy in the organization. We think he's going to be a big character guy for us and an impactful player."

On if Harper will be allowed to wear warpaint: "No."

On scouting Harper in Las Vegas: "I went in there with a blank slate. I didn't read any of our reports. I saw a little bit of video on him. I just wanted to go in there with a clear slate and a clear mind, see what I saw. Just kind of use experience to slot him where I believe he went. When I got back, the three of us discussed it and decided that it was a pretty easy decision."

By Adam Kilgore  |  June 7, 2010; 7:10 PM ET
Categories:  Bryce Harper , Stephen Strasburg , draft , minors & farm system  | Tags: Bryce Harper, Draf  
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Next: Ivan Rodriguez returning to Nationals' lineup

Comments

So the Bryce era begins... I really do hope he and his parents come to their senses and sign early... The signing bonus will be chump change compared to what he'll make as major leaguer. Surprising that Mr. Selig announced Harper as an outfielder.

Posted by: gonats1 | June 7, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

YES!

Posted by: dorseylaw | June 7, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

So, if they kept him as a catcher and acquired Cliff Lee, there could be a Harper-Lee battery some day. :-)

But seriously, folks. Yeah, they did announce him as an outfielder. I was interested to hear that he'd been calling the majority of his games for six years (rather than a coach doing so). Evidently, a catcher can take longer to develop than an outfielder (not to mention the wear and tear of the position)? That said, it's always nice to have someone on the roster who can be a backup catcher in an emergency. Especially if you're the Nationals. Ouch.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 7, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised the realsed didn't list him as a right fielder...

Posted by: SCNatsFan | June 7, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Is he signed yet? LOL

Let's not waste too much time getting him in here. Of course he's gonna be an outfielder. You want to wait four years for a catcher, waste 130-150 homers in the minors or get him in here in a year and a half? Door 2 please!!

Posted by: Brue | June 7, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Off-topic, for sure, but anyone read about Orlando Hernandez' half-brother involved in a multiple shooting? Know if he is related to Livan, given O & L are half-brothers, too?

Posted by: reddog278 | June 7, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

'Outfielder'?!?!?

He's a catcher!!

Good catchers are as rare as really good, smart third-basemen.

Posted by: JPMcC | June 7, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

a catcher who can hit well is also therefore worth far more. capische?

Posted by: MalcolmYoung | June 7, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

That is so stupid, drafting a high schooler. When do you think he gets called up to the Bigs? August? September? 2020? What a waste of a draft pick. You'd think Daniel Snyder was running the Nationals today.

Posted by: BigTrees | June 7, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Congrats Nats. Who really gives a rip where they play him. He could bat 3rd tomorrow and improve our offense.

Posted by: howjensen | June 7, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Harper as an outfielder = less wear -n- tear on the knees.....

Posted by: waxtraxs | June 7, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Here in the A-T-L Delino Deshields drafted 8th by the Astro's his mom is really excited just got off the phone offering congrats to her, my daughter and her boyfriend all graduated with the aspiring major leaguer about three weeks ago from high school, really surprised he was drafted so early but it is a weak draft in the opinion of most draft analyst.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 7, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Here in the A-T-L Delino Deshields drafted 8th by the Astro's his mom is really excited just got off the phone offering congrats to her, my daughter and her boyfriend all graduated with the aspiring major leaguer about three weeks ago from high school, really surprised he was drafted so early but it is a weak draft in the opinion of most draft analyst.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 7, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Can't wait to see Harper prowling right field and raking at the plate. Imagine two or three years years hence:

cf Morgan
ss Desmond
3b Zimmerman
1b Dunn
Lf Willingham
Rf Harper
C Flores/Norris
2b Espinosa
P Strasburg

That is one mash unit.

My only concern is that Harper told SI he dreams of wearing the pinstripes. He loves the swings of Robinson Cano and Roger Maris. He wears 34 because it adds up to 7, the number of Mickey Mantle, his favorite player.

Hope the Strasburg-Harper "era" isn't just a three or four-year window.

Posted by: Drew8 | June 7, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

"....On June 2, 2010, Harper was ejected from the National Junior College World Series, when he showed up home plate umpire Don Gilmore after a called third strike. Harper drew his bat in the dirt to show where he thought the pitch was, and he may have uttered something when Gilmore threw him out. It was Harper's second ejection of the year, which resulted in a two-game suspension.[12] The suspension in all likelihood ended his amateur career, as Southern Nevada lost the game from which Harper was ejected and lost their next game with Harper suspended, which eliminated them from the tournament..."
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shall we chalk it up to youth?

Posted by: MILLER123 | June 7, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

>'Outfielder'?!?!?
He's a catcher!!

Posted by: JPMcC

Not any more, Einstein.

Get in there Bryce. GET-IN-THERE BAYBEE

Posted by: Brue | June 7, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Not sure Dunn is going to be here in three years.

Posted by: Vze2sr66 | June 7, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm just sayin.
http://tinyurl.com/272mkon
*****************************


"....On June 2, 2010, Harper was ejected from the National Junior College World Series, when he showed up home plate umpire Don Gilmore after a called third strike. Harper drew his bat in the dirt to show where he thought the pitch was, and he may have uttered something when Gilmore threw him out. It was Harper's second ejection of the year, which resulted in a two-game suspension.[12] The suspension in all likelihood ended his amateur career, as Southern Nevada lost the game from which Harper was ejected and lost their next game with Harper suspended, which eliminated them from the tournament..."
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shall we chalk it up to youth?

Posted by: MILLER123 | June 7, 2010 8:30 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 7, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

now excuse me while I go fix the spelling on that wikipedia page...

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 7, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

@Miller:

ABSOLUTELY we should chalk it up to youth. He's 17. That, and the pitch was a foot outside.

Posted by: flyingdonut | June 7, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: f8dsa9dfasjfdka | June 7, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

>>>On if Harper will be allowed to wear warpaint: "No."

Boswell will be pleased. :)

Posted by: blackjack65 | June 7, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

@Vze2sr66: Not sure if Dunn will be here in 3 months!

Posted by: DKSW | June 7, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

"Hope the Strasburg-Harper "era" isn't just a three or four-year window."

This isn't football. He's guaranteed 6 years in the bigs with the team that drafted him.

Posted by: Section406 | June 7, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

That is so stupid, drafting a high schooler. When do you think he gets called up to the Bigs? August? September? 2020? What a waste of a draft pick. You'd think Daniel Snyder was running the Nationals today.

Posted by: BigTrees | June 7, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

So, since most teams draft high-schoolers at some point, most teams are stupid?? Oooo-kay . . .

Posted by: rbpalmer | June 7, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if they'll fly him in to throw out the ceremonial first pitch?

The park will be in an unbelievable frenzy if that happens.

FRANK 20

Posted by: tradervic1313 | June 8, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

That, indeed, would be something, tradervic

Posted by: nats24 | June 8, 2010 1:49 AM | Report abuse

I am very, very, hopeful about this pick, because the Nationals are very, very pleased and scouted young Harper very, very thoroughly.

Posted by: JohnRDC | June 8, 2010 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Very pleased with the pick! Hope Bore-as won't keep him from signing until the last minute...

If Dunn keeps up his non-hitting ways, he may be gone. A power hitter that can't hit with RISP? What a waste.

So the College of Southern Nevada is a high school? Ummmm...don't think so.

Posted by: M20832 | June 8, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

@M20832: "So the College of Southern Nevada is a high school? Ummmm...don't think so."

Precisely. Harper is not a high-school pick, despite his age. He's an exceptionally advanced player who dominated a good Juco league in the one year he played in it.

This is really, really big. Could end up being bigger than Strasburg.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | June 8, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

That is so stupid, drafting a high schooler. When do you think he gets called up to the Bigs? August? September? 2020? What a waste of a draft pick. You'd think Daniel Snyder was running the Nationals today.

Posted by: BigTrees | June 7, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse
_______________________________

uhhhh... you might want to go to Redskins Insider where the players are taken out of College.

Seriously, Baseball players are taken based on their top end potential... This kid has "skies the limit" potential... He only hit 29 HR's with a wood bat at 17 years old & a lot of them are tape measures of 500 feet or more.... 17!!!

Posted by: tony325 | June 8, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

"That is so stupid, drafting a high schooler. When do you think he gets called up to the Bigs? August? September? 2020? What a waste of a draft pick. You'd think Daniel Snyder was running the Nationals today."

Posted by: BigTrees | June 7, 2010 8:07 PM

-------------------------------------------
This is exactly the kind of thing The Danny would NOT do. He'd trade the pick for Barry Bonds or Johnny Damon or some faded star he wants to meet. This is a smart move.

Posted by: bethesdaguy | June 8, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

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