Saturday, March 12, 2011

Harper optioned to Hagerstown

Bryce Harper was among four players cut by the Nationals following today's 6-5 win over the Yankees, bringing an end to the 18-year-old's first experience in a big-league spring training camp.

Harper was optioned to low-Class A Hagerstown, where he is expected to begin the season.

The three other players sent down were left-hander Atahualpa Severino (optioned to Class AAA Syracuse) and right-handers Tim Wood and Ryan Mattheus (re-assigned to minor-league camp).

Harper's demotion comes as no surprise. Despite his insistence he could challenge for a spot on the Opening Day roster, the Nationals had no intention of doing that. Team officials want last summer's No. 1 draft pick to gain experience at the lowest levels of the minor leagues before promoting him up the chain.

Harper wound up producing solid offensive numbers during his brief stint in big-league camp. In 13 games (all off the bench), he went 7-for-18 with three doubles, five RBI, a walk and three strikeouts. In his final appearance this afternoon, he got plunked in the right shoulder by an 0-2 fastball from Yankees left-hander Robert Fish, helping set the stage for Derek Norris' walk-off single.

Despite his impressive stats, Harper did look overmatched at times facing big-league pitchers, especially those who threw him a steady diet of breaking balls and change-ups. He made a few nice catches in right field but also threw wildly to the plate Thursday night to end a loss to the Astros.


NatsFanTom said...

Good luck Bryce!! Well played young man. We'll cheer you on every step of the way, and look forward to the day in the not-distant future when we welcome you to NatsTown!

Bratislava, Slovakia said...

Prediction: Harper will be called up no later than the September roster expansion (perhaps earlier) and will start next season in the opening day line-up.

Todd Boss said...

No way on Harper getting called up this year. At best he'll rise to AA, play another AFL fall season, and earn a 6/1/12 callup so as not to start his arbitration clock too soon.

Farid said...

So I'm wondering .....

1) Bryan Harper is being groomed as a right-fielder.

2) Jayson Werth IS the team's right-fielder for the next nine seasons.

3) Harper could certainly move to left when he arrives in Washington, but Michael Morse--based on his hitting the past couple of years is the team's long-term answer their (expanded to a full season, he would have hit 30 homers in both 2009 and 2010).

4) Werth isn't an everyday center fielder, and neither is Harper.

What are the Nationals going to do? The only possibility I see is moving Morse to first when LaRoche's contract expires after 2012, but then the whole "defense first at first" goes out the window.

Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

but then the whole "defense first at first" goes out the window.

First, as Morse himself said, he can play first, he has played it. He has played third base, second base, and shortstop. Plus left and right field.
He played shortstop in the majors along with third, first and the outfield.

Of course Morse can play first base!? So too, could ex-catcher Werth? They were looking for a LEFT HANDED BAT to replace the left handed bat in Adam Dunn's hand. Which is why they went for LaRoche over all the other possibilities.

You won't see Harper regularly in the majors for at least 2 years and that doesn't mean he will immediately be a major league starter. A lot can happen in that time. They will try him out in center field to see if he is a fit there. That is one attribute Harper has that makes him the prototypical right fielder: the left handed bat.

One should note that Harper had no homers and was just getting the hang of major league breaking pitches. By my count Morse has 5 this spring.

Rich said...


I've seen some rumblings of Bryce being athletic enough and fast enough as a potential center fielder. I also think that Bryce might not be up until 2013. He needs to learn to play defense.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

Suggestion: Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Cross that bridge when they get there. Don't count chickens before they hatch. Look low and away, but watch out for "in your ear."

In the alternative, just a thought ... if I wanted to teach a life-long catcher to play the outfield, I probably would not start him out in center, but if he looked like he was doing well, he might get there.

Joe Seamhead said...

Godspeed,Bryce! As many of us said for the past ten months, or so, we gotta find a place for Mr.Morse on an everyday, nine inning basis until he shows us that he isn't an every day player. A baseball given is " if you can hit, they'll find a place for you."

Anonymous said...

Wasn't it Ladson who said Harper was going to be on the opening day roster? Just saying........

SonnyG10 said...

The circus is over. Now the real journey begins and I am excited to see how well Bryce does. It should be awesome.

Anonymous said...

Who is Bryan Harper?

Anonymous said...

I bet he gets called up in Sept., starts next year in AA, gets called up late in the season again. Begins playing every day opening day 2013.


Doc said...

Harper's quick progression through the minors this year, will be a big surprise to many but not to him.

He knows more about what he can accomplish than those of us attempting to predict his success. He thinks that he could be back in the Bigs by July--he might be right!

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