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He made a perfect one-hop throw home from center field in the first inning of a game against Asheville, turning what should have been an easy run into a close play. He then used his speed to make a nice warning track catch before hitting the wall in deep center in the third.

He went 0 for 3 at the plate, but one of his outs was a frozen rope right at the center fielder. Harper naturally gets every pitcher’s best game _ everyone wants a Harper strikeout on the resume.

“Raw power stands out the most,” Daubach said. “He does things that guys, it takes until they’re 25 or 30 years old (to do). When he’s taking batting practice, it’s like watching a major leaguer already.

“The things he needs to work on is, first of all, the everyday grind of playing professional baseball, which no matter how many games you play in college or high school, it’s different. There’s always going to be an adjustment period for anybody. We came off a stretch where we played 20 straight days. All the guys, the first full season, you can see them getting a little bit tired, that’s part of the growing process, too. Being able to get through when you’re not 100 percent. Still give 100 percent of what you have that day, even if it’s only 80.”

Harper is still learning the outfield, having been converted by the Nationals after being a catcher most of his baseball life. Still, he already has his first legendary outfield moment: Against Lexington on May 6, he slipped while trying to cut off the ball at the warning track in right field, picked the ball up and, seemingly out of frustration, flung it to third base to nail the batter going for a triple.

“He launched a one-hopper, perfect,” Daubach said. “The runner was stunned.”

Harper is the youngest player in the league, but by all accounts he has blended in well among his older teammates. The Suns’ have an in-house nickname _ “Beaver” _ for anyone who works hard and makes hustle plays. Harper is a natural beaver.

“I think he’s doing just fine for being an 18-year-old kid,” first baseman Brett Newsome said. “He runs balls out and gets dirty. He’s one of the guys, man.”

Harper’s father, Ron, points out that his son long ago had adapted to the rigors of the baseball grind, playing 100 games or more per year, usually with older teammates, and traveling extensively, including stints in the U.S. national team program. Ron Harper keeps a close eye on his son, attending many of the games and often throwing his son batting practice before they arrive at the park.

“He’s having more good days than bad days,” Ron Harper said. “And in baseball if you do that, you’re going to be successful.”

Ron Harper said the role that contact lenses played in his son’s turnaround was perhaps exaggerated, but there’s no mistaking that seeing better helps quite a bit.

“I wanted him to go get checked, and he did because I knew he had a problem with his eyes before,” he said. “It’s not as bad as everybody thought. The contacts he had before gave him headaches.”

General manager Mike Rizzo has made it clear that Harper won’t be in the majors this year. In fact, it could be a while before there’s a promotion from Hagerstown, about a 90-minute drive from Nationals Park.

The Nationals did a lot of work on the Suns’ ancient ballpark in the offseason, remodeling the clubhouse and installing a new field, new grandstand seats and a new video board.

“I like the setup he has there,” Rizzo said. “He’s very comfortable in the surroundings. He’s got a great staff around him, but I don’t see him staying there for the entire season. He’ll be moved at some time. We’re just not at the point where he’s ready to move yet.”

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