Height: 6’3″ Weight: 225
Cover of Sports Illustrated as a 16 year old? Check. Juco HR record as a 17 year old? Check. Number one overall draft pick as a 17 year old? Check. So… Pro debut at 18. Check.
Drafted #1 overall in the 2010 draft by the Washington Nationals as a 17 year old, Bryce Harper, signed at the deadline for a record setting $9.9mm Major League deal. The record smashing all other deals for a position player. He was a catcher in High School and Junior College but the Nationals quickly into’d him to the nation as an outfielder. Obviously looking at their system and the time frame needed to train a professional catcher, there would have been a 2+ year stretch where the Nationals would be hitting on all cylinders with their young rotation while their top bat would be learning in the minors.
Here is what we had to say in the preseason when Harper ranked highly in our Top 100 Prospect List:
2. Bryce Harper OF WAS – The teen prodigy. ++ Power and a great work ethic. He’s a gamer who knows nothing but baseball. Should be a senior in High School and he’s playing pro ball. He’ll probably make it to AA this season with Washington in his sights some time late in 2012. Depending on how his pitch recognition and command of the strike zone develop he’s a .250 or a .285 hitter with elite power. All Star either way.
Let’s take a look at the hit tools and defensive possibilities that Harper has.
Harper has sick power. Mind you again of his age in case you forgot. He doesn’t project to have plus power, he already has plus power. It projects as a legit 80+ on the scouting scale.
The biggest question surrounds his ability to hit for a high average because of the violence that his power creates. But his elite hand eye coordination makes it a strong possibility. His K rate of 20% in High-A isn’t elite, but he was young for the level. In fact he should have been in High School. So when he jumped to Double-A this season and his K rate dropped to 17% it should have opened some eyes.
I think that Harper could have played catcher at the major league level. He has a plus plus arm which is an elite tool. The Nationals have already settled on him in the OF so the catcher project will never happen now.
But he can be an All Star level RF in time.
His plus plus arm and high level of intensity make him a good fit for the outfield. He’s going to play some CF but eventually is a prototypical right-fielder.
He’s probably the #1 prospect in all of baseball at this point.
In time his power is going to provide 35+ HR power and if he can continue to work the strikezone at the current level and put himself into good hitters counts he could hit for a .300 AVG at times as well.
The .300 AVG is something that has been highly questioned by me in the past and it still is. I think that Harper’s power is going to be something special, but his AVG will fall in the .280-.290 range.
He’s going to steal his fair share of bases but it’s going to be his power that puts him on All-Star teams. That and the fact that he’s already a household name to baseball fans. Sure, he’s not even 19 as of this writing, but he’s a special talent. Let’s just hope he doesn’t blow anymore kisses to pitchers after home runs. Because, major league pitchers will drill him in the head for things like that.
He has some growing up to do, but his work ethic shows the maturity that’s on the horizon. Next up is the Arizona Fall League. Then I’m pretty sure we’ll see him in Washington before his 20th birthday.
Check back soon as we profile many more Top MLB Prospects and also get our baseball geek on and take a look at some of the later draft picks from the 2011 draft that we think could be big names on the prospect radars in the near future. Anyone can tell you that Mike Trout is going to be a stud now, but who told you that when he was drafted? So take a look at our Touch’em All | GCL Pitchers and be a step ahead of the game. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be. So don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email me now at Tom@baseballinstinct.com.