PHOENIX — Before the Scottsdale Scorpions game in Phoenix last night, Bryce Harper walked onto the field with his four measly Arizona Fall League hits in tow, stretched with his teammates, laughed, took batting practice and warmed up for what would turn into a nearly four-hour, 10-inning 11-10 Scottsdale victory — just the team’s fourth since the season began 12 games ago.
There couldn’t have been real concern over Harper’s slow start in the Arizona Fall League. Not from anyone who checked his track record (he starts slow at every single level he reaches and was coming off roughly six weeks on the shelf with a hamstring strain) or, apparently, anyone who’d watched him in the first two weeks of the Fall League either. Harper only had four hits before Tuesday night, yes. He hadn’t homered, he had one double, one triple and five strikeouts in his stat line. He’d also been crushing the ball, several scouts said, and gotten snakebit.
So Tuesday night he apparently decided he’d had enough. In his first at-bat — against the right-handed Tyson Ross, who spent significant time in the major league rotation of the Oakland Athletics this past season — Harper doubled to left field. He hit the ball hard and flush, but the left fielder whiffed on a sliding catch, too. It was the kind of luck, several in attendance at previous games said, that Harper had been missing in the Fall League thus far.
In his second at-bat, though, he left nothing to chance. Anthony Capra, another A’s prospect and a left-hander, came in to pitch the third inning. Harper worked the count. He watched two balls go by and took a called strike. Then, he connected. The 2-1 offering sailed high and deep into the dry, warm Phoenix night — over the wall in left field at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, over the signage that climbs into the air above the wall and significantly further than the 345-foot marker down the left field line indicated. Finally, the kid considered one of the best power-hitting prospects in a generation had his first AFL home run of the season.
He wasn’t done, either. He found some more luck on a dribbler down the third base line that never rolled foul — driving in another run. And he finished the night 3-for-4 with three RBIs, walked twice, scored twice and struck out once as the Scorpions rallied their way back from what, at its largest, was a six-run deficit to win the game in extras. It was only one night, sure, but if Harper’s track record proves true it may very well be the start of a hot streak.