MLB Analysis: How Good is Nationals' Bryce Harper?

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Bryce Harper, made his major league debut Saturday night at the age of 19 for the Washington Nationals. If you are a baseball fan you’ve likely already been following the hype and progress of the phenom since he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated in June 2009. Harper’s reputation is that of a hitter but what has impressed me about Bryce since he has turned pro is his defensive flexibility, hustle, speed, arm and ability to track the ball in the outfield.

The converted catcher played left field in his first MLB game and center field in his second. He has a hit in each game with an RBI, he nailed a runner at the plate on Saturday night (although catcher dropped the ball) with a strike from left field and made a highlight reel catch slamming into the centerfield wall last night.

If you listen to the pundits, there aren’t many who are expecting much from Harper in his first season. He is after all only 19. I don’t know about that. I’m a big believer in going by what I see. If I pull this kid’s birth certificate away and just analyze what I see with my eyes, he seems to run faster, catch the ball better, have a better arm, have a better eye and hit better than the average MLB player. It is what it is and this kid is just different. He also doesn’t seem to be phased by any of the hoopla and certainly isn’t star struck.

Harper signed a five-year, $9.9-million contract with the Washington Nationals in August 2010, a record for a non-pitcher signed out of the draft who had not become a free agent. He’s the seventh teenager to appear in the majors in the past decade. Here are the previous six and how they fared:

Edwin Jackson – Pitching for the Dodgers, he beat Randy Johnson and the Diamondbacks in his debut.

B.J. Upton – Played 45 games in his rookie season for the Rays, hitting .258 with four home runs.

Felix Hernandez – Made 12 starts on the mound as a rookie for the Mariners; he won the Cy Young Award in 2010.

Justin Upton – Upton, the younger brother of B.J., hit .221 in 43 games for the D’backs as a rookie; he finished fourth in the MVP voting last season.

Madison Bumgarner – Didn’t do much in his rookie season, but last season he finished 11th in the Cy Young voting.

Mike Trout – Got the call early last season for the Angels and played in 40 games. Along with Harper, he was again recalled from Triple-A on Thursday.

I’m definitely in the minority here but the only thing I haven’t seen from this kid as a pro is his ability to adjust to how they will pitch him at the MLB level and he seems to have the patience an baseball acumen to do that too. I know that the word is that this is just supposed to be a two week call up while Ryan Zimmerman is out, but It wouldn’t shock me if Bryce Harper not only did not return to the minors, but appeared in this year’s MLB All-Star Game.

The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at You may email Mike @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MikeCardano. Listen to Mike on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew Tuesday mornings at 10am ET.