Rizzo confident that Harper will sign
For the second consecutive August, the Nationals are in the NL East basement and going down to the wire to sign a number one overall draft pick. Last year it was Stephen Strasburg and this year it's catcher/outfielder Bryce Harper -- both of whom are represented by Scott Boras.
General Manager Mike Rizzo told reporters before Saturday's game that he's optimistic Harper will sign before Monday's midnight deadline.
"I seem confident that we should sign the guys that we want to sign out of the draft," he said without naming Harper. "It's a two-way street and we're certainly doing our part. We're engaged in good dialogue and good communication."
Harper, 17, left high school early, earned his GED and enrolled at the College of Southern Nevada where he hit .443 with a school record 31 home runs. He figures to sign for less than Strasburg, who agreed on a four-year, $15.1 million contract -- a record for a draft pick -- 77 seconds before the deadline last year.
Rizzo said having last year's experience still doesn't make it any easier this time around.
"No," he said bluntly when asked there was a sense of calm this year. "It's not easier, it's not less anxious. The talks and negotiations are always difficult and always unique and this is a unique situation, just like Stephen was a unique situation, just like when I signed [Diamondbacks outfielder] Justin Upton it was a unique situation."
Another draft pick in negotiations with the club was on the field before Saturday's game. Robbie Ray, the team's 12th-round pick and a Tennessee native, was on hand with his family and sporting a Nationals cap and uniform with his name and the number three on the back. Ray, a 6-foot-2 left-handed pitcher, is choosing between signing with the Nationals and playing at the University of Arkansas.
"We brought Robbie and his family in here to show 'em our campus, if you will," Rizzo said. "We wanted to show him what we're all about. He was a 12th-round pick because he had a full commitment to a university. We see his ability as being great ability. Instead of just letting him go to school and blowing it off, we're giving every ditch effort to impress him with our organization and show him what being a professional can mean to him down the road and to give him an alternative to think about rather than just going to the University of Arkansas."
August 14, 2010; 6:02 PM ET
Categories: Bryce Harper , draft
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