Bryan Harper will participate in the Washington Nationals’ major league camp, as he attempts to join his brother, Bryce, in the bigs.
Most sports fans, even the most casual of fans, are familiar with Washington Nationals superstar Bryce Harper. He has become a polarizing figure and is one of the best athletes alive, so it is no surprise that he is extremely well-known.
His brother, on the other hand, is much less well-known. Bryan Harper, 28, is a left-handed reliever in the Nats’ organization. It was believed to be a favor to Bryce when Bryan was drafted, but he has proven that he belongs.
Bryan Harper has worked his way through the minors, establishing himself as a relatively successful reliever. Now, the Nats have invited him to major league Spring Training.
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Unfortunately, Bryan Harper’s last game experience came in 2016. He was putting together a solid season, pitching for AA Harrisburg and AAA Syracuse, but was shut down in August due to a forearm strain. It was eventually revealed that he required Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in November.
Due to the extensive rehab required to recover from Tommy John surgery, Bryan Harper did not pitch at all in 2017. While this may have stunted his development a bit, he is now ready to return to baseball.
Considering Bryan Harper has not pitched in a professional game since 2016, he is unlikely to make the major league roster out of Spring Training. However, that is not to say that he will not earn a promotion at some point in 2018.
The Nats’ bullpen is strong, but there are a few question marks. Shawn Kelley, Koda Glover, Ryan Madson, and Sean Doolittle have all proven to be exceptionally injury-prone, with Kelley and Glover coming off of injury-riddled seasons. If any of these relievers suffer an injury, Bryan Harper could be on the short list to replace them.
Enny Romero is also a bit of a question mark. He is oozing with potential, but has been unable to harness his control in the past. If he struggles with his command again in 2018, he may not have as long of a leash. Considering Romero and Bryan Harper are both left-handed, Harper could be an ideal replacement.
Although Bryan Harper put together a solid season in 2016, his peripherals were not great. He pitched to a 2.95 ERA in AAA, but his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) was 4.06.
Sabermetrics can be misleading at times, especially in the minors, but this is not a good sign. If his FIP is accurate, he was the beneficiary of great defense and did not actually pitch as well as his ERA would lead you to believe.
At 28, Bryan Harper is relatively old for a guy who has never reached the majors, but he is knocking on the door. Being invited to major league Spring Training is a step in the right direction, and he has a good chance of joining Bryce in the majors at some point in 2018.