The most highly acclaimed prospect in all of baseball is headed to “The Show” with enough hype and pressure surrounding him to overwhelm the average 19 year old kid.
But that’s the big thing that sets Harper apart from the rest of baseball’s prospects, many of whom will never even reach it to the big leagues, let alone at 19. Harper is not the average 19 year old kid.
Harper has been on baseball’s radar since around the time he received his driver’s license. Appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated in high school will put the spotlight on you, and hitting homeruns over 500 feet will only make the light shine even brighter, something that Harper relishes.
Harper left high school early receiving his GED, so he could become draft eligible one year earlier than had he stayed in high school. Attending community college in Nevada, Harper lit up the JUCO teams he faced. He was the proverbial man amongst boys, even though he was many years younger than his competition. He should have been getting ready for his junior prom, yet he was putting himself in prime position to be baseball’s number one pick.
For the second year in a row the Washington Nationals held the top pick. Taking flame throwing, knee buckling pitcher, Stephen Strasburg the previous year, the Nats were looking for their face of the franchise to help boost sagging ticket sales and an anemic offense.
The face of the franchise was a 17 year old kid from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Harper joins a Nationals team that sits atop the National League East division, and is one of the early surprises of the season. Harper was called to the big leagues, despite his struggles this season at AAA (one homerun in 72 at-bats), to fill the void in an offense that is without the team’s top two hitters, Mike Morse and Ryan Zimmerman.
Bringing comparisons of Mickey Mantle along with him to the Majors, Harper made his Big League debut Saturday night in Los Angeles vs. the Dodgers.
Showing off his throwing arm, that would make Andre Dawson, Vlad Guerrero, and Ichiro jealous, Harper almost recorded his first assist from left field (catcher Wilson Ramos couldn’t handle the ball after a collision with Jerry Hairston), hitting what would have been a game winning sac fly in the ninth had the Nationals bullpen not blown the save, and hustling all over the field that would have Charlie Hustle, Pete Rose himself proud.
Whether or not Harper will remain in the big leagues when Zimmerman is activated remains to be seen, but Harper is already making it very difficult to send the prodigal son back to the minor leagues.
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Patrick is a diehard sports fan and former football player from Chicago, the greatest city in the world. The home of deep dish pizza, the greatest skyline in the world, and the best sports fans in America. Patrick has been a fan of the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks since birth and is an avid college football fan, particularly the SEC. Patrick is the host of “The Wake Up Call”, a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com every Wednesday morning from 8-10. View his show’s website here.