If you’ve heard about Stephen Strasburg , chances are you’ve heard about Bryce Harper too. There could be a lot of similarities between the two—or there could be none other than the hype they’ve both received long before draft time.
Projected as the consensus first-overall draft pick in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft, here’s what you need to know about Harper before we get to June.
1. The Basics . Harper is just 17 and obtained his GED this summer so that he could play junior college ball and be eligible for this draft. Yes, he’s that good. Some say it’s immature, other’s say it’s, in fact, a sign of maturity. No one will really know for a while still which one it is, but if nothing else, it’s a smart short-term move, as Harper stands in line for a large payday come draft day.
2. Harper is advised by Scott Boras. This could make things interesting. We’ve seen Boras clients drop in the past (Stephen Drew and Jered Weaver in 2004, Mark Teixeria in 2001, J.D. Drew in 1997).
Some teams (Chicago White Sox) have even refused to draft Boras clients. The Nationals, who have the No. 1 overall pick, came to terms with another Boras client last year (the aforementioned Strasburg), though not through the smoothest of negotiations.
3. Not all teams need a catcher. Many teams adopt the “best player available” approach, and certainly someone would jump on Harper if for no other reason than for his trade value, but looking at the draft order, there isn’t a team without a top catching prospect until the Diamondbacks pick at No. 6. There is no way Harper falls that far, but it will be interesting to see how that may affect his draft slot.
4. Harper may not stay behind the plate. Harper has been playing some centerfield for the College of Southern Nevada. He’s got a very strong arm, though it’s likely that a move to the outfield would be to a corner spot as that fits his power, arm and size the best. That would make No. 3 obsolete if it does take hold.
5. Harper is unquestionably the most talented player in the draft, but unlike Strasburg, he’s not without questions. Questions over Harper’s position, body (at 17, he’s not done growing), and ability to hit professional off-speed pitches means that he’s not a sure thing. Not that there is ever such a beast in the MLB draft, but Strasburg was as close as possible (how many guys can spot a 100+ MPH fastball?).
6. Most important, Harper is not a given at No. 1. Despite his unmatched potential, Harper’s floor is still low enough that others are able to stay in the conversation. A strong season out of some of these players could rock the boat, especially if Harper has any struggles.
It’s still likely that Harper goes first, but keep an eye on prep righthanders Jameson Taillon and A.J. Cole and college righties Deck McGuire and Anthony Ranaudo . In my opinion, the 6-foot-6, 225 pound Taillon and his 99 MPH right arm poses the biggest threat to Harper and the first slot.
To summarize: Harper is the most likely choice for Washington with the first overall pick in the 2010 draft. However, if certain things fall into place properly—Harper fails in the outfield, the Nationals feel Derek Norris prevents the need for Harper, Taillon’s stock continues to rise—it’s very possible Harper slips from the top spot.
Only time will tell, but know this information now. It just may come in handy by draft day.
Jason Glogau is the founder and author of "The 51st Round" , a blog focusing on the MLB Amateur Draft. Please visit the blog to find important information for the on-the-go baseball fan!