Not sure about the former but I’m certain about the latter.
I pity the foo’ that underestimates Bryce Harper.
Let me say it here first: Harper, the owner of a new $9.9 million, five-year contract, will get his first major league at-bat as a September call-up in 2011.
Everyone talking this two, three and four year mess is brain dead.
There is no one that has Harper’s resume as an amateur. Not Albert Pujols, not Alex Rodriguez and not Justin Upton. But for fun let’s compare them anyways.
Lets start with Pujols. Pujols was a JuCo shortstop using a metal bat when he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round in 1999. He spent the next year in the minors making pitchers question their career choice by hitting .314/.378/.543 (AVG/OBP/SLG). The year after that, PuJols (I’m pronouncing the jota as an English J now) won the Rookie of the Year and a Silver Slugger award. He hasn’t sniffed the minors since.
Rodriguez and Upton were both high school phenoms who used metal bats against children. Rodriguez spent 1.5 years in the minors hitting 36 homers in about 165 games. Upton hit about .500 his senior year, spent two years in the minors and has been an MLB starter ever since.
Sidebar: I have a friend who played against Upton in a amateur showcase and I asked him what he was most impressed by. He said simply, “Wheels man. Kid just had crazy wheels.”
Now let’s talk about Harper. First of all the guy possesses the two rarest and most projectable tools in baseball: a good batting eye and Mike Piazza’s Strike Zone-type power.
Sidebar: Mike Piazza’s Strike Zone was a terrible videogame for N64. Every hit was a 700-ft. home run.
Secondly, Harper should have been a high school junior last year. Instead he’s playing against people two and three years older than him and destroying them to the tune of .443/.526/.987. People know about the 31 home runs in the 222 at-bats but what really impresses me is he had 39 walks compared to 43 strikeouts. That means guys that are older, more experience and mature ballplayers were not fooling him. Oh by the way, he used a wood bat.
Finally, the proof is in the contract. The Nationals gave him a Major League deal. He’ll be up sooner rather than later.
If Rodriguez made his Major League debut at 18 and Upton was 19, why would Harper be any different? If Pujols only spent one year in the minors why would Harper spend more? Why would a guy who has talent that we’ve never seen in an amateur, come to the big leagues any later than at 18?