Bryce Harper has been promoted to Double-A Harrisburg today and is one step closer to playing for the Washington Nationals in the big leagues. He tore up opposing pitching in the South Atlantic League and played with a swagger previously unseen in quite some time. So what in the world took so long?
Harper, who is only 18 years old, did miss three games with a bone bruise recently. That’s a minor injury, but one that could linger in the latter parts of the year if it isn’t rested. Other than that and his kiss-blowing incident after hitting a home run, he’s been nearly flawless. In 72 games, he hit .318 with 14 homers and 46 RBI. He displayed speed on the bases, patience at the plate, and a missile arm in right-field. Maybe it’s because the Hagerstown Suns organization refused to give him up.
It has been said that he had a prolonged stay at the Class-A level because his baserunning and defense needed work. His 14 stolen bases were nice, as were his six outfield assists, but five caught stealings and five errors were enough to hold him back. Harper took it upon himself to steal three bases on Friday and two bases on Saturday, all without getting caught. This kid is determined to do whatever it takes to be the best he could possibly be.
Coming out of junior college in Nevada, there were many questions about his attitude and immaturity since he was featured across the country at such a young age. Outside of a blip here and there, he’s handled himself very well. Harper didn’t want any special treatment from his teammates and just wanted to be one of the guys. He even said first baseman Blake Kelso, not himself, was the best player on the team. He’s come a long way from taking a bow after throwing a runner out at the plate and showboating around the bases.
Lost in all of this is that Bryce skipped the next level in the minors, High-A Potomac, the reigning champions of the Carolina League. Harper said that he would love to make his major league debut when Stephen Strasburg makes his return from Tommy John surgery, but at this rate, it doesn’t look to be the case. There is no need to rush Harper, as it’s likely he’ll sign with the Yankees, Red Sox, or Phillies once his arbitration years are up, so stretch this time out as much as possible. It’ll be important for Bryce to continue to be humble and not let this promotion get over his head.