The Washington Times - July 4, 2011, 10:12AM

After 72 games with Single-A Hagerstown, Nationals top prospect Bryce Harper has made the next step in his progression to the major leagues with a promotion this morning to Double-A Harrisburg, sources told the Washington Times.

The long-awaited promotion came after the outfielder went 5-for-11 in his last three games with the Suns and is hitting .318 on the season with Hagerstown. After sitting out several games in the final week of June with a bruised bone in his left thumb, Harper has played five straight games for Hagerstown with no reported issues.

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He is expected to represent the organization in Phoenix, Ariz., on Sunday in the MLB Futures Game, along with right-hander Brad Peacock. 

During his stay in Hagerstown, Harper, a South Atlantic League All-Star, hit 14 home runs, drove in 46 runs, slugged .554 and got on-base at an impressive .423 clip.

His performance with Single-A Hagerstown and the maturation process that went on there for him obviously was enough for the Nationals to feel he’d be able to bypass Single-A Potomac and head right to Double-A. 

Harper will most likely make his Double-A debut tonight when the Senators host Erie at 7 p.m.