SAN FRANCISCO — In case you haven’t heard, Bryce Harper homered last night — his 14th of the season with Single-A Hagerstown — and then he pimped it hard.
To say the least, it’s the type of character move that (in addition to working on his defense and other aspects of his game) is helping to keep him at Single-A Hagerstown. It’s not the first time something like this has happened, Harper incited a benches clearing a few weeks ago when he turned toward the opposing team’s dugout to yell something at the pitcher after striking out.
The truth is, from everything I’ve heard, Harper gets taunted and cat-called an excessive amount by both opposing players and fans. Hurtful, inappropriate things have been said to him and it’s natural for an 18-year-old to want to retaliate but this won’t endear him any more to those who chide him. Harper’s going to be promoted eventually but antics like this won’t help him make too many friends along the way.
It hasn’t hurt his accolades, though, as Harper and four teammates were named to the South Atlantic League All-Star team Tuesday morning with Harper getting more votes than any other player in the league. He’ll start in right field at the June 21 affair and will be joined by infielder Blake Kelso, catcher David Freitas and pitchers Taylor Jordan and Chris Manno. Suns manager Brian Daubach was also named as the All-Star manager and pitching coach Chris Michalak will serve that role on the team as well.
Harper has a .342 average in 56 games. He’s hit 14 homers, 14 doubles, drive in 42 runs and gotten on-base at a .435 clip. He’s slugging .623 and has also stolen 12 bases. Kelso, a third baseman, has hit .344 with 12 doubles, a triple and two home runs in 56 games this season. He’s also drive in 30 runs and has a .412 on-base percentage. Freitas is right behind them with a .295 average, six homers, 39 RBI and a .408 on-base percentage.
Jordan is a 6-foot-3 right-hander who’s gone 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA in 54 1/3 innings pitched. He’s struck out 32 and walked just 12 while Manno, a left-handed reliever, has seven saves and an impressive 0.33 ERA in 27 innings. He’s allowed just nine hits all season.
– The Nationals will continue to add to their draft haul when they make their fourth selection of the draft in the third round this afternoon but here are a few notes on the guys they picked second and third yesterday, after No. 6 overall selection Anthony Rendon, Alex Meyer and Brian Goodwin.
First about Meyer, a 6-foot-9 right-hander:
Mike Rizzo: “He’s a big power right-handed pitcher. He’s got three plus pitches in the future. He’s got two present plus pitches. He comes at it at an extreme downhill angle. He’s mid-to-upper 90s consistently and hold his velocity and throws a hard, wicked wipeout slider. He’s a guy that we feel even as a college junior has a big upside left in his development and a guy that we see has a chance to be a front-of-the-rotation guy.”
Meyer was drafted out of high school by the Boston Red Sox but opted to go to Kentucky where he could mature both as a pitcher and a person. He’s improved the past two years with his delivery, particularly.
Nationals scouting director Kris Kline: “(He’s improved) on the ability to keep his delivery together. Obviously a long-levered guy. Right now he’s better out of the stretch. He gets a little methodical from the wind up, which is a good thing for him. It helps him to keep it together. He’s getting closer as far as that goes.
“Worst-case scenario is you’ve got a (Daniel) Bard-type reliever with a better slider and somebody that you bring in at the back end of your bullpen that can dominate.”
Nationals assistant GM Roy Clark: “We’ve been tracking him since he was a high school junior. He wasn’t physically or mentally ready to go out then. He scuffled the first couple of years, but this year he really started putting it together real well in the fall. This spring he’s been very good, and his last four or five starts were against some of the top college teams in the country—Vanderbilt, Florida, and I believe, LSU—and it was totally dominant. We think he’s really coming into his own and feel very fortunate to have gotten him.”
The Nationals were surprised, to say the least, that Meyer fell to them at No. 23. He was, at one time, in their mix to be picked with the sixth overall selection. Kline compared Meyer’s stuff to that of No. 1 overall pick, UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole, who went to the Pirates.
And as for center fielder Brian Goodwin who was once at the University of North Carolina but was suspended for academic reasons and transferred to Miami Dade Junior College:
Mike Rizzo: “He’s a guy with five tools. We see him as a top-of-the-order table setter with some power. He’s got surprising pop in his bat. He’s a plus-plus runner, plus-plus defensive player. We think he can hit at the top of the order and leadoff. He has shown a propensity to have a high on-base percentage, and he’s a guy that’s not afraid to take a walk and steal a base. He’s your prototypical speedy, defensive, top-of-the-order, center-field prospect.”
As for concerns over his suspension, the Nationals didn’t have any reservations. “We did extensive research and we feel like those issues have been settled,” Clark said.
All three of the Nationals first-day draftees are clients of Scott Boras so chances are the Nationals are in for a lengthy negotiation before they can decide what level any of the three will begin their baseball careers.