MLB Draft: Is Bryce Harper the Next Joe Mauer or Matt Wieters?
With the lack of excitement and appeal that surrounds Major League Baseball every May, draft talk begins to dominate all conversation in baseball realmsand rightfully so.
For the second straight year, the Washington Nationals have secured the rights to the No. 1 overall pick in the First-Year Players Draft, in which top prospect Bryce Harper is on pace to be selected June 7.
Analysts have already begun comparing Harper to possibly the greatest catcher in the history of the MLB, Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins, as well as former top catching prospect Matt Wieters of the Baltimore Orioles.
In the photo above, Harper is dropping home run bombs in his own dome in Tampa Bay, Florida, with the same majestic left-handed swing that piled everyone onto the bandwagon of the multi-sport phenom Mauer, just six years ago.
Simply put, Harper is not the next Mauer or Wieters behind the dish (though it may be too early to compare). He is definitely not going to save the Washington franchise in the fashion that Mauer has.
Unlike Mauer, Harper's scouting report boasts above-average power with plus speed, plus-arm strength, and plus range, with less-than-jaw-dropping defensive technique.
Harper's draft stock skyrocketed after he graduated high school early to play at the College of Southern Nevada, where he worked on mechanical issues at the plate that he was previously criticized for.
All previous doubt has since been abolished.
Notwithstanding the preceding top-draft pick, Jason Heyward, who is dominating National League pitchers, Harper has been regarded as having the most power, and quickest hands, of any player in draft historyplacing him among the greats of amateur athletes.
As a result of his below-average catching ability, Harper may be converted to a left- or right-fielder in the future, after being commended for his plus range and plus-arm strength from anywhere on the field.
Harper was awarded the 2009 Baseball America High School Player of the Year at the age of 16, as well as the Ryan Howard Award (International High School Power Showcase Home Run Derby), and First Team All-State Catcher Honors in 2008.
For the College of Southern Nevada, Harper hit 29 home runs, drove in 89 RBI, stole 18 bases, and hit for .422 with a .524 OBP and a .986 slugging percentage in 62 games.
For Nationals fans, he may not be the next Joe Mauer, but he may be more successful than last year's top prospect Steven Strasburg.
Only time will tell.
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