Roll the Dice with Bryce Harper? To Draft or Not to Draft in 2011

TheFantasyFix.comAnalyst IMarch 22, 2011

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 20:  Washington Nationals prospect, Bryce Harper #34 playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions runs into the dugout during the AZ Fall League game against the Mesa Solar Sox at Scottsdale Stadium on October 20, 2010 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Bryce Harper. 

Boy Wonder. Second Coming. Must be seen to be believed. 

Name your descriptive phrase and it’s been used on Bryce Harper. 

It would appear that Harper is on the fast track to the Hall of Fame and will have a career similar to Ken Griffey Jr or Alex Rodriguez.

Or he could flame out and have a career similar to Gregg Jefferies or Billy Beane.

But right now, in the middle of Spring Training 2011, do you draft Bryce Harper? And if so, where?

I don’t need to throw a lot of stats at you because chances are you’ve already seen them.

Two of them, however, stick out in my mind. 

First, as a 17 year old in a wooden bat college league, Harper hit 31 homers in 66 games, breaking the school’s previous record of 12.

Yes, that says 12, meaning he broke the school record by a whopping 19 home runs—tantamount to Babe Ruth hitting 54 home runs in 1920, more than every other team in baseball except one.  

Second, in his spring training cup of coffee earlier this month, Harper hit .389 in 18 at-bats over 13 games.

I am the first to say that spring training stats don’t count, but this is a little different in three ways:

  1. Every pitcher he faced no doubt wanted to get the Boy Wonder out.
  2. This was the first time he ever faced major league pitchers in major league parks.
  3. He was multiple years younger than virtually every other player on the field, every day. Quite impressive, especially since the ankle injury isn’t anything serious.

So again, do you draft Bryce Harper?  

If you’re in a standard mixed league without keepers, the answer is a resounding NO.

Yes, he’s got all the hype and all the tools, but he’s 18 and in single A ball. Even if someone does draft him, he isn’t close enough to the majors to warrant taking up a roster spot for that many months.

If he does get called up to the majors this year, you can probably grab him at some point later in the year. 

In a keeper league of any sort, then I’d say take a late-round flyer on Harper. He was taken in the 22nd round in my 23 round Mixed league draft last week, and I think that’s about right. He’s worth a late-round flyer and, depending how that team’s season goes, may decide to use the roster spot on him.

And to be honest, if he hadn’t taken him in the 22nd, I was about to (I had already taken Strasburg in the 19th).  

In an NL-only (non-keeper) league, it’s a tough call. Are the rosters big enough to hold a guy for so many months? If so, then sure, go for him. But if you’re working with a standard 23 or 24 man roster, I’d say don’t take him.

You’ll have to hold a valuable roster spot for way too long to reap a month of benefit from a kid who if he gets called up, may not be worth it.   

In essence, Harper isn’t going to make or break your season this year, so unless you’ve got a keeper league, pass on him for now.

Written by Jesse Mendelson exclusively for

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