Thursday, June 04, 2009

A Name to Know: Bryce Harper

posted by Jon Williams
By now, assuming you read as many blogs as I do, or maybe you just watch ESPN's Sportscenter during the blog talk segment, you have to already know the name Bryce Harper. This is the kid who is featured on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated. I didn't know a hell of a lot more than you about Harper until this morning. That is when I read just about every article I could find (old and new) about this high school catcher and freakishly talented boy being compared to Ken Griffey Jr. and LeBron James. The kid prefers to be compared to LeBron James.

Now I'm convinced that every fantasy owner should also know this name. I get crazy about prospects but aside from the occasional blurb in Baseball America I had not bothered to look into him. I'm not going to translate for you I'm just going to link you to a series of articles and a embed a video that should speak quite loudly.



Magazines.com, Inc.



Let me introduce you to the No. 1 pick in the 2011 amateur draft . . . Bryce Harper. I know, that particular draft won't take place for three more years. As such, how in the world could I make this type of a prediction now? Well, if you watched the 15-year-old, lefthanded-hitting catcher take batting practice, infield, and two plate appearances on Tuesday at the Area Code Games, as I did, then I have no doubt that you would be as enthusiastic about this phenom as I am. Harper has a power bat and a plus throwing arm that "already grades out to 70 on the 20 to 80 scouting scale," according to Dave Perkin of Baseball America. During infield prior to the game, Harper, in full gear, rifled the ball out of a crouch to second and third base with precision. Upon seeing him in action, I marked down "+ + arm" next to his name in my program. Although the rap on him is that he's not all that fast, I thought he ran very well from home to third on that triple, especially considering his age, size, and power. The kid is nothing if not impressive.

While I didn't witness Harper during the SPARQ (acronym for Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction, Quickness) testing that morning, he earned a score of 63.93, the 54th highest total out of 178 participants. It was the fourth-highest rating among the 25 underclassmen. Interestingly, he ran a 3.91 in the 30-yard dash, ranking in the top 10% in that category.

Harper made some more noise earlier this month at the third annual International Power Showcase High School Home Run Derby at St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field. Although Harper didn't win the contest, according to Baseball America's Nathan Rode, the tenth grader "played the part of Josh Hamilton" while Christian Walker, a third baseman from Kennedy-Kenrick Catholic High in Norristown, Pennsylvania "served the role of Justin Morneau."
When James was 16, he was a high school sophomore with an NBA game and a body to match. 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. That is why Harper—to his own approval—is best compared to James. Indeed, Harper nearly fell off the couch one day last month when he heard a sports announcer call San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the presumptive No. 1 pick in next week's draft, "the LeBron James of baseball."

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