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Rizzo: Harper won’t reach D.C. this year

May 18, 2011, 7:23 PM EST

Updated at 6:10 p.m.

NEW YORK — Don’t hold your breath waiting for Bryce Harper to reach the big leagues this season. According to Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, that’s not a possibility.

During both a radio appearance this afternoon and again later during a session with beat reporters, Rizzo made it clear he’s already decided Harper won’t debut in Washington in 2011.

“It’s not gonna happen,” he said on ESPN 980 AM’s “The Sports Fix” with Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro, “because he’s not ready for that to happen.”

Harper, 18, is hitting .366 with nine homers, 32 RBI and a 1.105 OPS in his first 37 minor-league games, all at low-Class A Hagerstown. He’s still learning how to play the outfield on a regular basis, though, and team officials believe he still needs to master several other aspects of the game.

For now, that will still take place in the South Atlantic League, though a promotion to high-Class A Potomac could be forthcoming.

“We like the adjustments he’s made at the plate,” Rizzo said at Citi Field before tonight’s scheduled game against the Mets. “We like the adjustments he’s made specifically against left-handed pitching, which
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  1. Anonymous - May 18, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    I think our hearts want him up now, but our heads have to agree that Rizzo is making sense. I see where Killebrew who was brought up around 18 or 19, didn't do much his first 4 years. — Although, it didnt ruin him, did it?Move Harper up to A Potomac now — if that works out –Move him to AA quickly — by July 4.If all goes well – AAA by August 1.That's my heart talking.

  2. Anonymous - May 18, 2011 at 7:34 PM

    Left out of my previous post:Then bring him up to the Big Club on September 1.That's the heart talking.

  3. Donald - May 18, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    Just a guess, but I think the time table is to move him to Potomac in June and to AA in late July / early August where he'll end the season. They'll bring him to the big league camp in 2012 like they did this year and have him start next year in AAA, assuming he's ready. He then gets a June call-up if all goes well.

  4. Tcostant - May 18, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    I love Rizzo's double talk. In one breath he says Harper won’t play in the bigs this year. Yet later he says that is development will dictate where he plays. Which is it? Of course the answer is the former, but only because he doesn’t want the arbitration / free agent clock to begin ticking. The soonest we see Harper in the bigs, is early May; no matter how he does. I’m not saying I disagree with this plan, just that what was said was contradictory.

  5. Luqman - May 18, 2011 at 8:19 PM

    I think that Rizzo did a good thing by shutting Harper in the major leagues, because I dont think he is ready to step into a big moment. I think he needs some seasoning, he needs to be devloped. I think Rizzo is learning the lesson for Strasburg. When Strasburg was drafted, Rizzo rushed him into the big leagues, Strasburg needed at the time to develop. I think that Strasburg will not come back this season. I think we will see Strasburg in mid nexy year. As for Harper, he should be in the big leagues in mid 2012.

  6. Anonymous - May 18, 2011 at 8:24 PM

    Hmm let me get this straight. Harper would do worse than La Roche in the bigs? really? Didnt Harper hit .385 in Az. Fall league and .350 + this spring in the bigs? Harpe just might fill an extra 10K + in the stands too night after night — and maybe, just maybe … Harper tears it up in the Bigs and put Washington on the map. Rizzo is so rooted the predictable –

  7. oldguyjim - May 18, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    Rizzo is absolutely right!! It is not double talk. Rushing the kid would be a real disservice. His development will dictate Low A, High A, AA and AAA. He will be in the Nats line-up in 2012 if all goes as planned. He is far from ready to face the likes of the Phillies or Braves starting rotation. His raw talent is off the chart but he needs experience and to have his mind zone in on playing at the highest level. Give him a chance to learn. Just remember his age!

  8. Anonymous8 - May 18, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    Why not a September callup if he rakes in Harrisburg. Rizzo must have been disappointed as a player because he seems to dash many dreams. In a way I am glad the other GM was there when Ryan Zimmerman raked in Harrisburg to get that amazing September callup in 2005.I don't think Bryce Harper will be ready but I also don't think you tell him 45 days into the season to "It's not gonna happen, because he's not ready for that to happen."

  9. Anonymous8 - May 18, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    Tcostant said… I love Rizzo's double talk. In one breath he says Harper won’t play in the bigs this year. Yet later he says that is development will dictate where he plays. ________________________Just not a good liar in my book.

  10. Anonymous - May 18, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    Luqman is using specious logic. He is comparing a pitcher and hitter — doesnt apply in this case. Yes, you can use young pitcher too soon and risk arm injury — not so with a hitter. Mantle, Killebrew and Kaline were playing at 18, Yount at 18 or 19, and Junior at 19 — all in the Hall or going to the Hall. Harper might not be ready for the big time, although I think it's worth a shot seeing if he is, but to compare pitcher development with a hitter is plain wrong. Finally, if Harper is indeed the "next Mickey Mantle" then enough with the hyperbole — bring the boy up, fill some seats, and give the fans something worth watching other than a .200 + team where the pitchers sometimes have the highest b.a. Bring him up.

  11. Anonymous - May 18, 2011 at 8:34 PM

    @Tcostant:Re: Rizzo's "double talk" and "development will dictate where [Harper] plays." What double talk? His development is this: he's dominated Low-A and is ready to be promoted to High-A. Harper seems right on track. People like you think success against Low-A pitching equates to being ready for MLB pltching. No. Argue all you want for getting him out of Hagerstown, but get a grip! Add all the other nuances (beyond my layman's ability to see) AND the fact he's an 18 year old kid. You'll never learn.

  12. Anonymous - May 18, 2011 at 8:39 PM

    Rizzo doesn't even know — bottom line. I bet the Lerner's look at those sorry bAtting averages of Werth, La Roche and Stairs and are or will put pressure on Rizzo to promote the phenom. Low A for the likes of Harper is such a joke — what a waste of his and the organizations time — he's completely dominating that rookie pitching — another Anon mentioned Harper hit 385 in the Arizona Fall league — exactly my point: he has already proven himself against the league Tip Top pitching prospects — he should be in at least AA at this moment. Rizzo can be a ridiculuous man.

  13. Will - May 18, 2011 at 8:41 PM

    I understand not promoting him this year, but I don't understand why he's still in Hagerstown. Harper is simply destroying pitching there. He has nothing left to prove.Yes, he still needs to learn the "nuances," but the only difference between A and A+ and AA is the level of pitching. It's not like the outfield gets an bigger, or it becomes more difficult to field with each promotion. Perhaps catchers at higher levels will have better arms to catch baserunners, but that's such an unimportant aspect of Harper's game that it certainly wouldn't hinder his development.It's time to promote him, for several reasons. First, Potomac is closer to DC than Hagerstown. Harper's presence in Potomac will build up more local interest as Nats fan will be able to physically see him play, generating more excitement when he finally makes the majors. Second, players like Selik and Meyers proved that they deserved a promotion and got one. Harper deserves the same opportunity. Third, Potomac's OF hasn't exactly been impressing, with the exception of Eury Perez. Promote Perez to Harrisburg, and then stick with an OF of Hood, Ramirez and Harper in Potomac.

  14. Anonymous - May 18, 2011 at 8:45 PM

    What's the difference right now between Blake Kelso and Bryce Harper? Both are having the same kind of success? Their age.So, let's compare apples with apples. Lefty Robby Ray is starting and pitching lights out in Hagerstown. Do you think he's ready for the majors for if there's one thing the Nats need its top of the rotation starters? Right?C'mon. Let Rizzo implement his plan … if he hits .500 in A+ ball he'll be in Harrisburg … once he's there they will start thinking about introducing him to the major league line up.

  15. Anonymous - May 18, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    There is no way that Harper would be ready for the big club by September. He is going to have a lot of problems when he gets to AA. That is where the big jump is…from A to AA.Low A is basically a high school all-stars leauge.

  16. Luqman - May 18, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    "Luqman is using specious logic. He is comparing a pitcher and hitter — doesnt apply in this case. Yes, you can use young pitcher too soon and risk arm injury — not so with a hitter. Mantle, Killebrew and Kaline were playing at 18, Yount at 18 or 19, and Junior at 19 — all in the Hall or going to the Hall. Harper might not be ready for the big time, although I think it's worth a shot seeing if he is, but to compare pitcher development with a hitter is plain wrong. Finally, if Harper is indeed the "next Mickey Mantle" then enough with the hyperbole — bring the boy up, fill some seats, and give the fans something worth watching other than a .200 + team where the pitchers sometimes have the highest b.a. Bring him up."I am not compairing a pitcher and a hitter. I brought Strasburg as an example, because he was a high profile must-see athlete who fill seats, he was rushed and hot hurt. If I am Rizzo, I am asking fans to still come to games, and to be patient, Harper is a sensational must-see, but he has to be ready at the right time.

  17. Mark'd - May 18, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    On September 1st you make the proclamations, not on May 18th.DREAM KILLER!

  18. JaneB - May 18, 2011 at 9:38 PM

    It seems to me he isn't hurt by staying in low A while he learns defense. He stays feeling successful and hitterrish, and he learns from a coach who…apparently…is great at teaching defense to baby players. No need for him to make a jump just because he can hit, if he isn't ready for it in the outfield, that would be like promoting a math wiz a few grade levels, even though he can't read well yet.

  19. DAR - May 18, 2011 at 9:44 PM

    "Mantle, Killebrew and Kaline were playing at 18, Yount at 18 or 19, and Junior at 19 — all in the Hall or going to the Hall."Killebrew and Kaline were up at 18 because they signed bonus contracts so they could not be sent down, so they were not up there because they were "ready". Killebrew did not make it big until he was 23–he had 253 at bats in the majors in his first five seasons.Yount should not have started in the majors at 18. He flirted with quitting baseball and did not have a good year at the plate until he was 24, in his seventh season. However, he was with a team that had been bad and wanted to show off their young star to the big league fans to raise interest in the team. (Sound familiar?)Harper has been a catcher until now, and he needs to learn how to play the outfield (especially if they hope he can be a center fielder, which would raise his value dramatically). I'm guessing by the end of the year he'll be in Harrisburg, and that's fine. AA is a big jump from high A and low A and the Nats rightfully want him to be ready for success at that level in all facets of his game when he gets to AA. In addition, I'd rather him learn how to be a ballplayer in the minors when the free agency clock is not ticking.

  20. Sec 3, My Sofa - May 18, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    What constitutes "ready"? Knocking the stuffing out of High-A pitchers? Sounds good to me. How many? For how long? It is not even Memorial Day yet. He hasn't been through any league once, nevermind twice, to see how he adjusts.Maybe it wouldn't hurt him to come up here in Sept–I haveno way to know that–but Rizzo is paid to decide that. And why start him this year if it will cost a year down the road?Libeling Rizzo (or anybody) over that is just silly.

  21. Unkyd - May 18, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    Re: Rizzo's "double talk". Not contradictory at all. You've a 18 year old kid, learning a new defensive position, dominating last years HS all star pitchers….. Of course he doesn't come up this year. How does teasing him and us by disingenuously saying "that's for me to know, and you to find out" serve any purpose? In that context, his development WILL determine where he plays…. In the minors, this year.Re: Harper v. LaRoche: this highly amusing "point" has been made on several threads. What does "He can't do worse than LaRoche" have to do with anything? The decision doesn't rest on the big club's offensive mediocrity. It's on what's best for the boy's development. One season…. Chill, fellow babies…BTW… Cam you imagine the tumult of abuse Rizzo's would withstand if he brought the kid up now, and he winds up batting .230, still missing the cutoff at the AllStar break, next year? And who would the loudest whiners be….?

  22. Anonymous - May 18, 2011 at 11:11 PM

    Unkyd; Quit yelling, dude. Come on, dude. Hitting the cutoff man is a thing high school kids can do — Harper's got a caznnon — so, thats a rhetorical fallacy of an argument. Next, anyone hitting .230 is 40 points higher than la Roche — point made. You talk of Harper like he's zn ordinary player — I'm beingt told he is Mickey Mantle reincarnated, better than kaline, as good as Junior, light years better than Yount. I think he could withstand hitting .230 and not implode as you imply.You just dont know the game.

  23. Anonymous - May 18, 2011 at 11:18 PM

    There is no way that Harper would be ready for the big club by September. He is going to have a lot of problems when he gets to AA. That is where the big jump is…from A to AA.Spoken by a fellow AnonThis gets sillier and sillier. Harper just hit ..385 in Az. fallleague: hardly a bunch of high school players.Secondly Harper hit .350+ this spring in the Majors. Second point made.With those little and ignored facts re-stated, what is your point now?

  24. Anonymous - May 18, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    DAR Said "Yount should not have started in the majors at 18. He flirted with quitting baseball and did not have a good year at the plate until he was 24, in his seventh season."Robin Yount averaged .265 his first four years in the bigs — and he plzyed shortstop!! Remember, he was only a lifetime .283 hitter anyway. From all reports and real time evidence, Harper is hardly in the class of modest hitter like Yount — So, in Yount's 18-22 years, he averaged just .18 points below is lifetime averge. Not bad for a teenager, wouldnt you ssay.No, Harper would do just fine and using Yount as an example proves it. Thank you.

  25. Unkyd - May 18, 2011 at 11:57 PM

    Well, you got me there…. I don't know the game…. Clearly. If I knew the game, it would take just 53 combined AB, in Arizona and ST, to "prove" to me that The Boy is ready for the bigs. We mere fans, on our ignorance would needlessly hold Him back, letting Him make the inevitable goofy mistakes out of the glare of ESPN's spotlights, giving Him a better chance to dazzle, in his first month up. Sigh…. If I only Knew the Game……

  26. nicefellow31 - May 19, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    Seems like most of the comments about Harper being ready for the Major Leagues only talks about his hitting. The kid has been a catcher and is making the transition to the OF. I think he needs some time working on his defense.

  27. Tcostant - May 19, 2011 at 7:54 PM

    Anonymous said… @Tcostant:Re: Rizzo's "double talk" and "development will dictate where [Harper] plays." What double talk? His development is this: he's dominated Low-A and is ready to be promoted to High-A. Harper seems right on track. People like you think success against Low-A pitching equates to being ready for MLB pitching. No. Argue all you want for getting him out of Hagerstown, but get a grip! Add all the other nuances (beyond my layman's ability to see) AND the fact he's an 18 year old kid. You'll never learn. Me nowI’m glad I started this debate, lots of great comments. My point is Rizzo has no idea if Harper would be ready to hit in bigs in September. Everyone considers this guy a once in twenty year prospect, he could be in Potomac by June 1st and crush the league and then crush AA in the summer and then go on to the triple A playoffs and crush there too. He could hit .350 at every level with power this year, I’m not saying he will. As I said before, I think I agree with the decision to keep him down this year and not let the arbitration / free agency clock start ticking, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t come up in September and be one of the 8 best starting players on this year's Nationals. I just find it funny all the people saying “their no we could be ready for the majors this year”, but the fact of the matter is we have no idea if he could be ready or not. Albert Pujols was playing in A ball in Potomac and before to long he was doing it in the majors. He played 100 games at low A then moved up to high A (ironicly Potomac) and had 3 games at triple A. We know he could have been in the bigs that year, but was held out to the next year when he hit 37 homers and drove in 130, are you gonna tell me that he wouldn’t have been ready the September before that? End of Rant!

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