According to ESPN, 16 year old phenom Bryce Harper will be eligible for the 2010 draft. That’s next year, for all you without the requisite math courses. What does this mean? It means that once again, the Nats will probably be taking a guy who is light years ahead of the competition in the draft. And assuming they can sign Strasburg, will have to once again pony up some dough for real expectations.
Harper and his family told the Las Vegas Review-Journal yesterday that he’s going to take his GED test this fall and has already enrolled at the College of Southern Nevada. These steps make Harper eligible for the 2010 Major League Baseball draft…If he completes the GED requirements and attends classes at CSN this fall as planned, he’ll be the clear No. 1 talent in next June’s class.
Which means that the Nats, who are about a dozen games worse than their closest competition, have the opportunity to finish last again. And get the #1 pick again. And in the weirdest of all circumstances, between Harper and Strasburg, will have the opportunity to draft the 2 most highly regarded prospects in years, possibly in decades.
Harper is considered by far to be the best player entering the draft (albeit it is still 350+ days away). He has a mid-90s fastball, he can hit the ball a mile, and he’s a good enough fielder to be a catcher. He’s a five tool player, that was called “Possibly the country’s best 12-year-old hitter” in 2005 by Baseball America. Yeah, apparently there are people who pay attention to that stuff. He plays catcher and third base and pitcher, but he has already famously hit the ball 570 feet. So pitching probably isn’t going to happen. Whether he remains at catcher is yet to be seen. Obviously, there is alot of hype around him, as evidenced by a sports illustrated cover article:
Here are some of the highlights from the article:
So good and so young is Bryce Harper, however, that he explodes baseball convention. He has hit the longest home run in the history of Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, and he did so in January, at age 16, with a blast that would have flown farther than the measured 502 feet had it not smashed off the back wall of the dome. Still only 16, Harper stands 6’3″, weighs 205 pounds, has faster bat speed than Mark McGwire in his prime and runs so fast that he scored on wild pitches six times this season from second base. As a catcher he picks off runners from his knees, and when he pitches, he throws a fastball that has been clocked at 96 mph. He also does volunteer work, holds down a 3.5 grade point average and attends religious education classes nearly every morning before school.
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It’s like he doesn’t take the game and the gift that he has for granted. He’s maximizing everything. You’re not worried about him going out there and living on talent alone. He’s working hard. He’s playing hard. He has a maturity about him, a toughness that says he’s going to work his butt off. It’s really refreshing to see these kinds of skills and talent, and the work ethic and dedication to go with it.
Harper has been compared to Justin Upton, Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr., each a freakishly advanced high school player and each the top overall pick of his draft. But Harper, say the baseball men who are paid to make such assessments, has the ability as a sophomore that the aforementioned trio had as seniors.
By the way, if you’re worried that Harper will have to wallow in the minors until he’s 22 or 23 – the ARod, Griffey, and Upton comparisons should make you feel good. ARod was up at 18 years old – he lead the AL in batting average by the time he was 20. Griffey came up to the majors when he was 19 – he hit 22 HRs the next season. Justin Upton was on the big boy DBack at the age of 19, this year the 21 year old is hitting .301/.389/.569.
If you want to watch Bryce Harper smash some HRs, go to the article here at The Baseball Analysts. The power display doesn’t start until about 3:00 in, but, he can hit it.
Obviously none of this is set in stone, and the Nats should be paying attention to signing Strasburg. But if Haper’s going to be eligible, they might want to up their beer prices a couple of bucks. They’re gonna need some money to sign some picks in the next 14 months.