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Harper’s path to the majors

Aug 17, 2010, 4:25 PM EDT

The electronic signal from South Capitol Street to Park Avenue making Bryce Harper's signing official had barely been processed before the obvious question was being asked all around NatsTown.

When will Bryce Harper make his big-league debut for the Nationals?

Settle down, everyone. There's plenty of time for that. Can't we just enjoy Harper's signing for one moment?

OK, time's up. When are we going to see Harper in D.C.?

Well, that will happen within a matter of days. Harper will be introduced in a press conference at Nationals Park, probably early next week at the start of the club's next homestand. So we'll see him in a Nats jersey and cap very soon.

And then? Harper is going to get very well-acquainted with Viera, Fla. He'll report ASAP to the Gulf Coast League, where he'll take a crash course in the art of tracking down fly balls in right field.

The GCL regular-season schedule only runs through August 28, so there won't be a lot of time for Harper to get professional game experience. The Nationals could possibly send him to Vermont for the final week of the short-season Class A Lake Monsters' season. ThatRead more ยป

  1. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    Mark Z. wrote…Harper will be in big-league camp next spring, working out and playing alongside Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman, Ivan Rodriguez and Adam Dunn (well, I may be getting ahead of myself a tad with that last one). Good one Mark! That will complete our hopes if Rizzo can ink Dunn before the season is over to avoid all the drama going into the off-season!By the way Mark, you covered this final day of signings really well and I appreciated getting your insight since the MLB Network dropped the ball this year (huge disappointment)

  2. JayB - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    Rizzo, Lerner's and Nats FO did a nice job with the draft signings. Mark correctly points out examples from the 2007 draft that have flopped making that draft very weak just 3 years later. Drafting and minor league player development is only a part of the job here. The team needs to do well for the long run health of the organization and it looks like they did very well in 2010 but………The most important part of building the team is the MLB product and that has a long long way to go. Still, well done Nats for this years draft.

  3. natsfan1a - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    Agree that it would be great to see them get it Dunn before the season's end, and I second the thanks on coverage. Especially the video link. That stuff just doesn't get old. hehe… Seriously, props to Rizzo, too.

  4. JaneB - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    Thank you for the info on how options work. And for the video — seeing it was fun!

  5. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    You got whipped cream on my Elvis wig! :D

  6. TimDz - Aug 17, 2010 at 5:05 PM

    Mark….you gonna get some sleep now? Great job keeping us all up to date and explaining the options rules.

  7. JackinDC - Aug 17, 2010 at 5:08 PM

    That's great insight into the process. Your coverage has been great!–Jack

  8. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 5:20 PM

    Mark -I am curious as to who is going to lose their spot on the 40 -man roster as Harper is added .. is that known yet?Best Regards, Mark in Arlington

  9. Mark Zuckerman - Aug 17, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    Mark in Arlington: Haven't heard officially yet who will come off the 40-man roster, but the simplest move would be to transfer Luis Atilano from the 15-day to the 60-day DL. He just had surgery to remove bone chips, no chance of returning to pitch this season.

  10. Doc - Aug 17, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    It would be interesting, at some point in the near future, to get Eckstein's take on Harper's batting skills, in comparison to ML batters.

  11. Feel Wood - Aug 17, 2010 at 6:00 PM

    Who cares about Eckstein, where is Batting Stance Guy? Has he done Harper yet?

  12. Wily Mo Peterson - Aug 17, 2010 at 6:06 PM

    Best Case Scenario: Harper destroys the Florida Instructional league and continues to shine in Arizona. Come 2011 spring training Harper continues to excel and starts the year at Potomac, quickly progressing up the ladder until his September 2011 call up and first big league at bat. Now at 2012 spring training Harper wins the starting right field job where he goes on to clobber home runs in DC for the next 15 years.

  13. Mark Zuckerman - Aug 17, 2010 at 6:06 PM

    Well, every once in a while I get one right: The Nats just announced that Atilano has been transferred to the 60-day DL to make room for Harper on the 40-man.

  14. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    Just a matter of info… Tim Keown has a piece on ESPN.com (MLB page) that contains anecdotal evidence from major leaguers who have seen Harper on tape and rehearses the arguments for and against drafting and signing Harper. It's fairly balanced. And in the most recent issue of Sporting News, John Feinstein's editorial piece on agents and reforming the system has a local angle (Lefty, Buck Williams, and David Falk). It would be fair to say that he has strong opinions on agents.

  15. natsfan1a - Aug 17, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    Batting Stance Guy was at the ballpark earlier this summer, and appeared on the pregame show. Guess he'll have to come back for Harper. He did impersonate Ray Knight, if that counts.

  16. A DC Wonk - Aug 17, 2010 at 6:09 PM

    Slightly off topic — but let's also give kudos to Rizzo et al for signing Coles. Let's not forget, he was a consensus first rounder who was still available in the 4th round because everyone thought he'd go to college. Rizzo picked him, and was able to sign him.

  17. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 17, 2010 at 6:20 PM

    A D C Wonk is absolutely correct. We got the next Stephen Strasburg in A.J.Cole. 4 years younger, tops out at 96 with a good change and nasty curve.Saw him here in Central Florida and he was a man among children.

  18. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 6:32 PM

    Thank you, Mark.

  19. natsfan1a - Aug 17, 2010 at 6:40 PM

    DC Wonk, yes, I extend all-encompassing props to Rizzo for the draft.

  20. Feel Wood - Aug 17, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    He did impersonate Ray Knight, if that counts.I know Ray Knight. (Full disclosure: I know who Ray Knight is.) Ray Knight is a friend of mine. (Full disclosure: Ray Knight walked past me once in the concourse at Nats Park.) Ray Knight is no Bryce Harper. It doesn't count.

  21. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    Sorry to beat a dead horse, but according to Fangraphs Harper will not use an option this year because a player must accumulate 90 days of service time to qualify for an optional assignment. Since there are not 90 days left in the season he cannot accumulate enough time this season.http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/regarding-bryce-harper-and-options/

  22. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 7:04 PM

    I think Harper will determine how soon we see him in DC. If he is tearing up A ball and knocking the cover off the ball we will see him much sooner than 2013. Perhaps next year. If he is human after all then we won't be seeing him anytime soon. Who's betting he is not going to beat up on A ball pitching?

  23. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 7:10 PM

    I'm betting Woodbridge has a $9.9 Million Dollar Game Plan next year.-longterm

  24. Anonymous8 - Aug 17, 2010 at 7:24 PM

    Funny you say Woodbridge because keep in mind that they didn't even get a whiff of Strasburg.Harrisburg has been the big winner this year and close enough that many DC fans make the pilgrimage.Wonder who will get Bryce Harper!

  25. meixler - Aug 17, 2010 at 7:29 PM

    He's 17 years old and thus should be given the benefit of the doubt, but I can't help but wonder if Bryce Harper's getting a MAJOR LEAGUE contract instead of a minor league one is somewhat designed to protect him from being tested for HGH. With numbers like his you can't help but wonder… but now he's protected from being tested by the players' union.

  26. Tcostant - Aug 17, 2010 at 7:48 PM

    Wow meixler – That is thinking outside the box. If true, it would have nothing to do with the Nationals, as they would have preffered a minor league contract and save the roster spot and expose one less player to the Rule 5 draft. This was a give and take, but it does make you wonder why Harper wanted a major league deal. It's likely just for his agents (I won't say his name) resume.

  27. meixler - Aug 17, 2010 at 7:59 PM

    I'm curious to know how much (if any) testing a team can do of prospects before drafting and/or signing them.

  28. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 8:02 PM

    http://www2.timesdispatch.com/sports/2010/jul/22/squi22s1-ar-346334/Don't buy your Harrisburg season tickets yet.

  29. markfd - Aug 17, 2010 at 8:06 PM

    Mark, great coverage on the Harper signing. Thanks for sacrificing some sleep for us!

  30. Feel Wood - Aug 17, 2010 at 8:07 PM

    Harper is a devout Mormon, by all accounts. They don't smoke, drink alcohol, or even take caffeine. Even though HGH and other PEDs were not around in the days of Brigham Young, somehow I feel that those things are not allowed either.

  31. HHover - Aug 17, 2010 at 8:33 PM

    Two things:first of all, the speculation about trying to avoid drug testing seems unsupported and pretty scurrilous.second of all–Bryce Harper is a Mormon, but what's the evidence for calling him "devout," as I've read several times? Or is this just an assumption that all Mormons are? He doesn't, for example, appear to be leaving any time in his schedule to go on mission, as Jeremy Guthrie did. I don't ask this to suggest that he is or isn't devout, and I don't really care one way or the other. But it'd be nice to get the facts straight.

  32. Tcostant - Aug 17, 2010 at 8:40 PM

    Has anyone ever seen the South Park espisode on the Mormon faith. It is very good.

  33. meixler - Aug 17, 2010 at 8:40 PM

    HHover,you're absolutely right that it is unsupported speculation. I din't mean for it to be anything but. I'm a fan, not a reporter and I was simply throwing it out there as a possibility to consider. take it or leave it as you like.

  34. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 8:45 PM

    I'm with DC Wonk. Given the fact that right now, at this moment the only starting pitcher the Nats have that is an almost lock to go seven allowing only 2-3 runs is 35 (oh c'mon Livan? We know you are closer to your brother Orlando age-wise than that?), year old LIvan Hernandez? I am tired of watching Olsen hoping that he will learn to be consistent. Tired of watching John Lannan attempt to be a top 3 guy in the rotation when he really belongs as a #5 innings eater …(say isn't that why theygot LIvan and Batista? How many do they need … YIKES!!). Tired of watching Detwiler struggle with his poor mechanics. So, I am really happy they signed Solis!!!?As for Cole and Ray? Excellent attempts to replace Willems and Smoker. Maybe they will get through they system and become stoppers?

  35. natsfan1a - Aug 17, 2010 at 9:23 PM

    LOL re. Knight, Feel Wood!

  36. bobn - Aug 17, 2010 at 9:44 PM

    Did his brother get drafted, or is he a free agent? Would be great to have him room with Harlow during his ascension years.

  37. bobn - Aug 17, 2010 at 9:47 PM

    Harper, Harper…I know, I know

  38. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    Anyone else in the Nats organization Mormon to help Bryce feel at home?

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