No matter what happens, Bryce Harper won't be playing baseball for the Washington Nationals in 2011.
That was the guarantee that came from pretty much everyone within the organization.
Too much pressure on the kid, they said.
And a couple of weeks ago, they seemed to be clairvoyant. The kid with his own Sports Illustrated cover was batting .235 and had just one home run.
Since then, though, Harper is proving to be every bit the player his press clippings described.
In 32 at-bats since April 21, Harper is batting .500 with six doubles and five home runs. He's driven in 14 runs. He slugging at a 1.156 clip and his on-base percent is at .600.
He's now on pace for a record-setting season that would look like this:
Home runs: 45
Stolen Bases: 30
Batting Average: 358
On-Base Percentage: .600
Slugging Percentage: .697
He's on track to walk 105 times while striking out 150. However, since mid April, he's walking more and striking out less, so those numbers will likely look a great deal different by September.
I wouldn't count on the Class-A South Atlantic League pitchers figuring him out anytime soon. They were getting him out easily during the season's first couple of weeks until Harper made an adjustment.
They have yet to respond.
Harper is obviously dominating Sally League pitching. The question is how long the Nationals will let him remain before he is promoted to High-A Potomac.
Right now, game time has become little more than enhanced batting practice for the Las Vegas native and isn't really helping his development.
Currently, Harper is ninth in the league in batting, third in doubles, home runs and RBI, sixth in on-base percentage and fourth in slugging percent. What makes his production even more impressive is his age. Lexington's Chris Wallace has similar numbers (.384-7-24) but is 23. Asheville's Bryce Massanari (.388-7-23) is 25. And Matt Curry of the West Virginia Power (.375-4-19) is 24.
Bryce Harper is 18 years old and should be a high school senior this year.
The team is probably beginning to firm up the date when Harper will be promoted to High-A Potomac, and there is little doubt he'll finish the 2011 season at Double-A Harrisburg. Another good spring (remember, he batted .389/.450/.889 this year in Viera) and he could very well find himself as the team's starting center fielder this time next year.
This is a team that could make the jump from bad to good very quickly. With Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg on the team in 2012, just about anything is possible.