With position players set to report to Spring Training on February 20th, all eyes will soon be focused on 18 year old phenom Bryce Harper.
Harper who was taken number 1 overall in the 2010 draft has not disappointed the Nationals organization thus far having excelled in both the instructional league as well as the Arizona Fall League.
While in the instructional league he posted a .319 batting average with a .407 on base percentage while leading the Nationals in hits, home runs, rbis and walks.
At the Arizona Fall League level while playing on the taxi squad for the Scottsdale Scorpions he posted a .343 batting average with a .419 on base percentage over 9 games. His showing with the Scorpions although brief was rather encouraging being that it was on what many consider to be the highest level of baseball under the majors.
So now he sets his sights on Spring Training with the Washington Nationals and what does he hope to accomplish?
Well Harper recently did a phone interview with MLB.com where he discussed exactly what he plans to take out of his first Spring Training with the Nationals.
"“I want to go out there, try to get better, learn from all the big league guys, see how they approach the game and how they go about their business,”"
"“I want to get better in the outfield. … That is my main goal. I want to see what opposing pitchers will do and how they will throw to hitters like Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth.”"
"“There are a lot of things that I write down — baserunning. I learned a lot of things from [Nationals Minor League instructor] Tony Tarasco in the outfield. The outfield is the main thing I have to get better at right now — the outfield and the mental part of the game.”"
For a kid that is being touted as one of the best prospects of all time it is definitely an encouraging sign to see that he does not appear to have gotten lost in all the hype that surrounds him.
Of having switched from catcher to right field and now possibly having to move to another position due to the signing of right fielder Jayson Werth, Harper had the following to say
"“I’m not sure where I will play, I think I play center field better than I do anywhere else. I have enough speed and enough reaction to know where the ball goes off the bat. Being around Tony Tarasco and my dad, who played center field, has been a big help for me. Whether it’s left, center or right, I will play anywhere the Nationals need me.”"
On when we might end up seeing him with the Washington Nationals during the regular season Harper said
"“I’m just going to Spring Training, to work as hard as I can, play my [rear] off like I always do and make their decision hard,”"
Harper then followed up that statement by saying
"“I like to make people make hard decisions. I’m going to play as much as I can and enjoy my first Spring Training. I’m going to let the higher power take care of where I need to go.”"
Harper has been reported a number of times as saying he hopes for a September call up this season and I for one am right there with him on that line of thinking.
No matter what position he ends up playing or when he will finally make it up to the majors for actual regular season play it appears right now the future is bright for Bryce Harper.
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