|USA Today Sports Images|
Harper was officially named this evening as one of the eight participants for Monday's derby in New York, accepting NL captain David Wright's invitation to compete. Harper and Wright will be joined on the NL squad by Rockies teammates Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer. The AL foursome features the Orioles' Chris Davis, the Yankees' Robinson Cano, the Tigers' Prince Fielder and one more slugger to be named.
Harper will participate in the derby on Monday, the first Nationals player ever selected for the home-run-hitting contest. He'll then start in the NL's outfield on Tuesday night, the youngest NL starter ever voted in by fans.
There was some question whether Harper would accept the invitation, not wanting to add any extra wear and tear to his left knee after spending a month on the disabled list with bursitis. The 20-year-old came back strong over the weekend, though, going 4-for-6 with four RBI, two walks and two stolen bases the last two days.
Harper's power numbers (13 homers) don't necessarily stack up with his fellow derby contestants, but that's a byproduct of his month on the DL. And what he lacks in stats so far this season he more than makes up for in star power (and the ability to help boost TV ratings for the annual event).
Though this is Harper's first appearance in MLB's Home Run Derby, he has been participating in these type of events his entire baseball-playing life and wowed onlookers (including Davey Johnson) at Tropicana Field in 2009 as a 16-year-old when he blasted a 502-foot homer in an amateur derby.
Harper will be the second-youngest participant in Derby history, bested by Ken Griffey Jr., who was 39 days younger when he competed.