Nationals take phenom Bryce Harper in draft

Suddenly, the future for Washington D.C. baseball looks awfully promising.

A year after taking pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg with the No. 1 overall pick, the Nationals took catcher Bryce Harper with the top selection during Monday’s MLB draft.

Harper doesn’t even turn 18 until October, but he hit .417 with 21 dingers in 51 games at a junior college last season. While his natural position is catcher, the club actually announced him as an outfielder when they selected him. Catchers usually take longer to get to the big leagues because they have to learn how to handle a major league pitching staff. But if Harper can play the outfield, he’ll likely spend less time in the minors.

While it’s important not to expect too much too soon out of them, if both Strasburg and Harper live up to their potential, the Nationals have two pieces in which they can build their franchise around for years to come. If nothing else, this will be an exciting team to watch over the next couple of seasons with the amount of young talent they’ll have coming up through the minors.

Here are some YouTube highlights of Harper:

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom. Best and Worst MLB draft picks of all-time

The 2010 MLB Draft starts tonight and in order to get things kicked off,’s Jon Heyman ranked the best and worst picks in the draft’s history.

Here are a few picks from each category.


3. Matt Bush, SS, 2004, No. 1 overall, Padres. This pick was terrible in itself, but considering Justin Verlander came next makes it even worse. Bush not only never rose above Class-A, he is most memorable for the damage he and his buddies caused to Padres owner John Moores’ private box shortly after San Diego drafted Bush. This was one of those supposed cost-saving picks because real prospects such as Verlander, Stephen Drew and Jered Weaver were seeking much higher bonuses than the $3 million wasted on Bush. What makes matters worse is that Bush hailed from the San Diego area, so they should have known better.

5. Brien Taylor, LHP, 1991, No. 1 overall, Yankees. Taylor signed a record-setting bonus of $1.55 million and looked like a can’t-miss prospect until hurting his throwing shoulder in a fight defending his brother. Sadly, Taylor never pitched a game in majors, joining Chilcott as the second No. 1 pick never to play in the bigs.

12. Jeff Clement, C, 2005, No. 3 overall, Mariners. The Mariners gave away their No. 3 overall pick after they recognized he wasn’t going to be anything close to a star, trading him to the Pirates last summer. What’s worse is that the two players drafted immediately after Clements were Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) and Ryan Braun (Brewers). Clement is hitting .197 as a Pirates first baseman this year and is a .223 career hitter.


1. Piazza, C, 1989, Dodgers, 62nd round. Hard to top a Cooperstown-bound catcher in round 62. Was a legacy pick at family friend Lasorda’s behest but he became a superstar.

6. Ryan Howard, 1B, 2000 Phillies, 5th round. This later bloomer was slow to be promoted to the majors, too, perhaps because of the presence of power-hitting Jim Thome. But as as soon as Howard arrived, he established himself as baseball’s top slugger.

7. Bay, OF, 2000, Expos, 22nd round. The Canadian was underappreciated almost right to the point where he signed that $66-million contract with the Mets. The Expos were full of good picks. This was one of their best.

Ha! Matt Bush. He’s so easy to root against in life.

How about the Expos finding Bay in the 22nd round? They probably had no idea what the hell they had, although as Heyman notes in the feature, they were actually one of the better organizations at drafting young players. (And then subsequently trading them away.)

Good list overall. There are always arguments to be made when rankings like these are released, but Heyman knows his baseball and I think he covers a wide spectrum of players. He also stays away from the most recent drafts, as one never knows if a player will fizzle after finding success early in his career. (Although I don’t think anyone would have bulked if Heyman mentioned Tim Lincecum among the best picks. He already has two Cy Young awards and the Giants showed guts taking him with the 10th overall pick despite his unusual throwing motion and small stature. Of course, I’m also a Giants fan, so take what I say at it’s worth.)

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Nationals to select Bryce Harper in June?

Ben Goessling of writes that the Nationals will likely take 17-year-old catcher Bryce Harper with the first pick June’s draft.

Barring an injury or a drastic change, the Nationals will likely take 17-year-old catcher Bryce Harper with the first pick in the June Draft. According to a source familiar with the situation, they see Harper as being head and shoulders above anyone else in the 2010 draft class and believe he could reach the majors within 2 1/2 years.

Harper, who has been called “the LeBron James of baseball,” completed his GED in December 2009 so he could play junior-college baseball and be eligible for the 2010 draft, rather than finish high school. He is currently playing at the College of Southern Nevada, where he is batting .422 with a .516 on-base percentage, .891 slugging percentage, 15 homers and 42 RBI in 39 games.

The Nationals are pleased with Harper’s arrangement, as it makes him easier to scout than he would be if he was in high school. He is already playing with a wood bat, and the junior-college level of competition is higher than what he’d face in high school. What’s more, Harper is getting pitched to at Southern Nevada, where most high school teams would pitch around him.

Most of the talk surrounding Harper is whether or not he made the right decision to skip the final two years of high school in order to take classes and play at College of Southern Nevada. There’s already a ton of pressure being heaved onto his shoulders and considering he’s so young, no one can predict whether or not he can handle all of the expectations.

That said, Harper is a phenomenal talent. His primary position is catcher, but he has also been clocked throwing 96 mph as a pitcher. He’s best known for hitting a 502-foot home run during the 2009 International Power Showcase at Tropicana Field. The blast is currently on record for being the longest home run in that stadium.

The nice thing about MLB is that whether or not he’s taken with the first overall pick, Harper will have to produce in the minors before he “arrives” at the major league level. Given how young he is, he can take his time developing before he goes the rout of Albert Pujols or Alex Rodriguez, two players that were on the fast track to playing professional ball.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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