Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper Should Spend the Season at Triple-A
Bryce Harper is no doubt the best offensive prospect in the game—ever.
It's also goes without question that the Nationals will be a better offensive ball club when he cracks the big league lineup.
That being said, Harper and the Nationals could both benefit from him spending the entire 2012 season in Triple-A.
Argue all you want (that's what the comments section is for), but there's no denying the fact that Harper could use more time at the Triple-A level.
First off, he's still learning how to play the outfield.
Harper was a catcher coming out of junior college and then was a right fielder in his first minor league season.
Center field is a completely different animal, and that's exactly where the Nationals will ask him to play when he makes the team.
There's no doubting the fact that Harper is a freak athlete, but pure athleticism is not enough to make anybody a Gold Glove outfielder.
Granted, the Nationals likely won't ask him to play that caliber defense, but you get my point.
Obviously the Nationals plan on leaving him down there until at least June for Super-Two reasons, but leaving him there longer will help him to polish his defense.
Would Harper benefit from a full season at Triple-A?
Also, Harper isn't hitting as well in the minors as many are led to believe.
So far in nine games (36 at-bats) as a member of the Syracuse Chiefs, Harper owns a .222/.263/.333 line with zero home runs and just one RBI.
He has eight hits (two doubles and one triple) and has scored just one run.
If Harper can't hit Triple-A pitching, there's almost no shot that he can hit major league pitching. Even if he gets on a hot streak, though, the Nationals should fight the urge to call him up and let him finish the season in Syracuse.
With a strong season under his belt in Triple-A, Harper will have the confidence to feel as if he can easily handle major league pitching.
He's currently confident, but that confidence is based off cockiness. If he actually produces at Triple-A, he'll know that he can succeed at a higher level.
The Nationals also seem to be just fine in the offensive category so far this season.
Despite Mark DeRosa and Roger Bernadina being members of the starting outfield, the offense has produced well enough to lead the team to a 7-3 record.
They haven't had to score many runs as the pitching has been superb, but all you need is to score one more than the opponent.
All in all, Harper will make an impact on the Nationals in the near future. It will probably be this season—even as early as mid-June—but the team would be better off leaving him in Syracuse for a little more seasoning.
It would be terrible to see the best hitting prospect in history struggle upon making his major league debut.
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