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              Some say he’s going to be the best player the game has ever seen and a lock for 500 home runs, if not many more.  This high praise started in high school for Bryce Harper at age 16, when he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and was dubbed as baseball’s “chosen one.”  As a freshman in high school Harper hit a moonshot that traveled 570 feet.  That’s the type of strength this young phenom was blessed with.  Bryce was so advanced for his age that he dropped out of high school after his sophomore year, got his GED, and went to College of Southern Nevada. Scouts would have been happy with just surviving against much older competition. Instead, he dominated and won the Golden Spikes Award, in honor of the best player in amateur baseball.  After just one year at Southern Nevada, he declared for the MLB draft and was selected with the number one overall pick in 2010 by the Washington Nationals. 

                Harper, just turning 20, has jumped through the minor league system and has started in both center-field and right-field for 2012's best regular season team, the Washington Nationals. In addition to his outfield versatility, Harper possesses power and bat-speed that is far and away already better than most major league hitters.  He lived up to all the hype and expectations hitting at a .270/.340/.477/.817 clip with 22 home runs in 2012.  His 22 home runs are the second most by a teenager in Major League history (Tony Conigliaro with 24). There’s no question the power is there for Bryce, but he has excelled in other facets of the game as well.  He has shown great patience at the plate, a trait most young hitters lack, with a walk rate of 9.4%, which is higher than the league average of 8%.  He is also above average in categories such as WAR (5.0) and OPS+ (119).  He’s no Mike Trout in terms of speed (but then again, who is?), however he does have above average wheels and has the ability to steal bases, as he was 18 out of 24 (75%) in 2012.  With impressive tools like hitting for average, hitting for power and speed on the base paths, Harper fills out the remaining tools just as well.  Bryce, a converted outfielder after being a catcher much of his amateur career, was clocked throwing 96 MPH in high school.  Today, he utilizes his rifle in the Washington outfield.  Harper had a very impressive 8 outfield assists in his rookie campaign.  Even though Harper made 7 errors, he is still young and had a well above league average 14 defensive runs saved.  Remember, he should have just finished up his freshman year in college. Instead, he's posted some of the greatest teenage numbers in baseball history.

                These types of numbers at such a young age make people wonder what this kid can do in the future, which may be scary.  Additionally, Harper is praised for the things that do not show up on the stat sheets.  His intense fire and passion for playing the game of baseball is what makes him so successful early on in his career.  To some, he may come off as being arrogant and cocky.  However, I look at him as being confident and a guy who simply plays the game how everyone should play it by running every ball out as hard as he can.  Just consider yourself a clown if you want to question Harper’s ability to play baseball at its highest level, bro.  


 


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