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Bryce Harper heads home, for now, as Arizona Fall League begins

As the Florida Instructional League ends Monday and the Arizona Fall League begins Tuesday, first overall pick Bryce Harper will head home to Las Vegas at least for the time being while the Nationals leave open the possibility he will play in the Fall League before it ends in mid-November.

Harper, a power-hitting outfielder who turned 18 on Oct. 1, spent the past month in Viera, Fla. at the Nationals instructional league camp, his first experience as a professional. Nationals Director of Player Development Doug Harris and General Manager Mike Rizzo will speak in the next few days to decide if Harper's next step includes playing in the AFL. For now, they want to give Harper time to relax and reflect in a comfortable setting.

"He's going to go home," Harris said. "Mike and I are going to talk about it. This is the first time he's really been away from home. He needs to go home."

Harris said Harper improved as the instructional league ended. Harper showed improvement with his plate discipline and, in the final week, he hit a couple opposite field home runs - "oppo boppos," as Harper called them during his introductory press conference.

"He's really done a nice job making adjustments," Harris said.

For Harper to eventually attend the fall league, the Nationals would first need to obtain a special exemption from Major League Baseball. Each team can choose two players who have yet to reach Class AA, and the Nationals will send Sammy Solis and Derek Norris. The Nationals, though, have one roster spot available, and they can petition MLB for one more exemption. The Nationals would almost certainly be able to clear that obstacle, if they so choose.

As a refresher, here's the Nationals' current Arizona Fall League contingent, who will play for the Mesa Solar Sox and be managed by Class AA Harrisburg Manager Randy Knorr:

Adam Carr, reliever
Brad Peacock, SP
Sammy Solis, SP
Derek Norris, C
Steve Lombardozzi, 2B
Michael Burgerss, OF

As for the end of the instructional league, Harris mentioned third baseman Steven Souza, outfielder Destin Hood and pitchers A.J. Cole and Robbie Ray as players who had strong showings.

Harris singled out right-handed pitcher Taylor Jordan, 21, as a particularly interesting player to watch. Jordan "threw the daylights out of it" in Florida, Harris said, hitting 93 and 94 miles per hour on a fastball with some wicked sinking action.

Jordan "has begun to understand where his ability can take him," Harris said. "If he takes this seriously, he has a real chance to pitch in the big leagues. His focus was closer to where it needed to be, and it was fun to watch."

This year, pitching mostly for Vermont and making one appearance in Hagerstown, Jordan went 2-4 with a 5.37 ERA in 65 1/3 innings with 8.1 strikeouts and 2.8 walks per nine innings.

By Adam Kilgore  | October 11, 2010; 7:15 PM ET
 
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Next: Nationals prospects make Arizona Fall League debuts

Comments

Thanks for the update AK! Great news when prospects continue to progress. Three position players and three pitchers. Always a good sign.

Posted by: periculum | October 11, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Re Harper...so what does this really mean?
He did great, he can relax at home for a few days/weeks?
Or...he did awful, let's let him go home and regroup?

Posted by: scmonty1 | October 11, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

So the super-stud can finally buy cigarettes. Bet that impresses all the high school seniors.

I'm sure he's already counting down the days to free agency.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | October 11, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

As are Matusz, Arrington, Wieters and Jones Poopy. Believe me.

Posted by: periculum | October 11, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

As are Matusz, Arrias, Wieters, Jones, and Roberts Poopy. Bet they are wondering how pinstripes would look on them? They are in the same division after all ... must be tough getting smacked down every year by those damned Yankees eh? Poopy?

Posted by: periculum | October 11, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Arrington?
Arrias?

Who are these guys and what position on the Orioles do they play?

HAHAHAHAHAHA

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | October 12, 2010 1:22 AM | Report abuse

I think that's spelled Burgess, not Burgerss Adam, try hitting spellchecker first before eating that Big Mac huh? Hey Poopy, the season's over, you can go back to your basement now...

Posted by: bromisky | October 12, 2010 5:36 AM | Report abuse

Quit feeding the troll bromisky.

Posted by: howjensen | October 12, 2010 5:52 AM | Report abuse

Hmm. . . There's Davey Johnson in some capacity or other in the advisory/coaching area. Wny not recruit Bobby Cox as well? That way, we could at least assure ourselves that somewhere on the Nationals payroll there are people who know how to manage.

Of course, that leaves the hapless rookie GM and the Lerners to deal with. On second thought I guess there's really no hope :-(

Who cares whether Harper plays in Arizona?

Posted by: JohnRDC | October 12, 2010 7:07 AM | Report abuse

So we're talking about 2011 and you're still referring to the GM as a rookie after two full seasons under his belt? After getting it done with the two most hyped #1 overall picks in many years, BOTH Scott Boras clients, and rebuilding a bullpen from nothing into a strength, he's not a rookie, nor is he hapless. He should be able to take the Nats as far as the Lerners will let him.

Posted by: dabagley | October 12, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I like this stuff about this or that kid getting some PT in the Fall League or wherever, but the Nats had better keep their eyes on the guys that will be playing on Half Street in 2011. They have had years to build this thing, it is well beyond time for them to put a MLB product on the field that can compete.

Rizzo is no rookie, but the constraints of a low budget can be the excuse for only so much. Mike makes the calls on who they get for the mney, so far his decisions have been midling. This is a make or break hot stove season for that guy.

Posted by: dfh21 | October 12, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

JohnRDC, no way I'd see Cox having anything to do with any organization other then the Braves. Would be great but no way I see that happening. Johnson, on the other hand, I believe would be available for the right price.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | October 12, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

>Harris said Harper improved as the instructional league ended. Harper showed improvement with his plate discipline and, in the final week, he hit a couple opposite field home runs - "oppo boppos," as Harper called them during his introductory press conference.

"He's really done a nice job making adjustments," Harris said.

What did I tell you? The kid makes adjustments. He needs to be in Arizona for the full schedule. By the end of the fall league they'll be saying the same thing they just said about him. He's in a different category - one with no real examples to define it.
Rizzo wanted to trade Dunn for that .500 pitcher with control problems (Jackson) so he could look like a genius because he knew he was going to dump Dunn anyway. The guy's a loser, all he wants to do is claim ownership of a dynasty that he built from the ground up, no matter how far backward he has to slide to do it. The offense will be pitiful again next year, and it'll have Rizzo's fingerprints all over it.

Posted by: Brue | October 12, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I totally care whether Harper plays in Arizona. I'm glad they have all these vaguely identified "leagues" to move people around in and give us stuff to talk about through the cold dark days until Persephone returns from the underworld and Demeter brings back baseball. Gosh, if you can't be hopeful when they're not playing, when can you be hopeful?

Posted by: markfromark | October 12, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-Very nice, markfrom! Has me thinking about some other example of this motif (from even older myths)....but why bother? You nailed it. Now, a more modern fable also comes to mind-from Charles Dickens. You all know the one-where the obscenely wealthy guy "sees the light" and starts giving as well as taking. I'm tired of the Nats (and the dwindling fan base) being "Screwged"...or are we merely being Slowed? In our march to baseball nirvana?
Ahhh, but I'm losing sight of your point, Mark! So ...fer now....don't quite know how it'll happen...but I say we make the playoffs in 2011. (Of course, since I've said this every year, eventually I'll be right. Stopped clocks, etc...)
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | October 12, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Anybody playing in the AFL projects as starting next year at least in AA (see Strasburg 2009). I've read they expect Harper to start in Hagerstown so I'd be surprised if he plays in AZ.

Curiosity should not be a reason to send him.

Posted by: sjt1455 | October 12, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

>Anybody playing in the AFL projects as starting next year at least in AA (see Strasburg 2009). I've read they expect Harper to start in Hagerstown so I'd be surprised if he plays in AZ.

Curiosity should not be a reason to send him.

Posted by: sjt1455

Who says he can't go to AA? The Nats? If they hold him back, it's just another example of an inept organization that's already in last place. Oh that's right, let's have him play 'a couple of months in A ball'. Whatever. They should give him an invite to the big league camp with a chance to make the team next year. He could probably hit better than Morgan, Harris, Bernadina and the rest of the imposters.

Posted by: Brue | October 12, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I think Bryce Harper will be in big league camp in Spring Training because he is on the 40-man roster. But at some point he will get sent down to minor league camp and I would guess start the year at Hagerstown. If he hits .350 with 10 homers in April, then we can start seriously thinking about seeing him in September next year and a chance to start in 2012, but I really think he is going to have to prove himself over an extended period of time at the lower levels of the minors.

Posted by: SpashCity | October 12, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Odds are very good that Harper does not sniff the bigs next year, which is fine. What the club is going to do with the SEVERAL gaping holes in its roster in the mean time before the harper's and Strasburg's of the world become reasonable realities is what I am interested in. The Nats had better go big, or I am staying home.

Posted by: dfh21 | October 12, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Randy Knorr manager of the Scottsdale Scorpions? Aren't all the Nats farm players on his team?

Posted by: Watson1 | October 12, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Brue, easy big fella. Nobody is saying what the kid can't do. All respected organizations agree that the worst thing you can do is have to demote someone or yoyo them back and forth (see Detwiler, Ross).

I tend to agree with a start in Low A, if he tears it up, end the season in High A and start 2012 in AA.

And just because he can hit better than Morgan doesn't make him a major leaguer.

Posted by: sjt1455 | October 12, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I know Harper is the big potential here, but I think we bury the lead if we don't talk more about Solis going directly to AFL. It seems more plausible that he would get face time in 2011 than Harper. I don't want to rush his arm, but Solis is getting very good reviews and if he is conditioned well enough to take it, there seems to be a possibility he sees the majors by the end of 2011.

Posted by: natbiscuits | October 12, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I know Harper is the big potential here, but I think we bury the lead if we don't talk more about Solis going directly to AFL. It seems more plausible that he would get face time in 2011 than Harper. I don't want to rush his arm, but Solis is getting very good reviews and if he is conditioned well enough to take it, there seems to be a possibility he sees the majors by the end of 2011.

Posted by: natbiscuits | October 12, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Bisquits: I tend to believe that Solis is going to the AFL with a two-fold purpose - 1) to stretch out a little more, in terms of IP, and 2) to help Rizzo & the rest of the staff determine where he'll start 2011 (Hagerstown/Potomac/Harrisburg).

Posted by: BinM | October 12, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

A reasonable hypothesis ... not a bad purpose if so. I'm not ready to put him in the major league rotation, but from what I have read Solis seems likely to be the first 2010 draft choice to make it to the majors. Hague might be the first position player. Probably Peacock and Norris each have an opportunity to make the majors at some point in 2011 as well. (again just based on various reports and opinions this year).

Posted by: natbiscuits | October 12, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

>And just because he can hit better than Morgan doesn't make him a major leaguer.

Posted by: sjt1455

Yeah I know. But this is the Nats we're talking about here. It's not like it's a regular big league team.

Posted by: Brue | October 13, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

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