Bryce Harper Bio

 

Born October 16th, 1992 (1992!!) Bryce Harper is a 17 year old left-handed hitting catcher currently playing for Southern Nevada Community College.  He is also the most-hyped baseball prospect of my lifetime.  

His throws clock 96mph on the the radar gun and he has off the charts power – a solid 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale.  It is said that he is more advanced than Ken Griffey Jr and Alex Rodriguez were at the same age. 

In Harper’s second year of highschool he put together a line of  .626/.723/1.339. In 115 at-bats he slugged 22 doubles, nine triples and 14 home runs.  Of those 14 HRs, 8 of them came in his last seven games.  He drove in 55 while scoring 76 times. His BB:K ratio was an impressive 39:5. That’s right, 5 strikeouts in 115 AB.  He also finished the season – including playoffs – on a 23 game hitting streak. He stole 36 bases in 39 attempts.  Not only that but he is so fast the he scored 6 times on wild pitches – from second base. He was the first-ever sophomore to win Baseball America’s High School Player of the Year award 

Pretty impressive, no? Harper also hit a towering blast that was measured at 570 feet.  On paper he is quite the stud but those numbers are to be taken with a grain of salt.  The level of competition is not that high and he was facing sloppy 74-80mph fastballs.  His high school league was also an aluminum bat league. 

This past summer Harper stepped it up by playing for six weeks with USA Baseball’s 18-and-under team.  Bryce helped the American U-18 win a gold medal by hitting .294/.375/.588 with 2 home runs and 4 doubles in 34 at-bats. He also led the team with two stolen bases in as many attempts

Despite those eye-popping statistics, Bryce Harper didn’t gain real notoriety until he participated in the International Power Showcase at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay in 2008.  It was at this showcase that Harper hit the longest homerun ever recorded at the Trop, measuring 502 feet.  In fact, it would have travelled even further had it not smashed into the back wall of the dome. 

The "O" marks the ball and the "X" marks where it ended up

Below is a video of the showcase (please have patience with the ads at the beginning!) 

[youtube liS3kGvQ9Bk] 

The hype surrounding Harper continued to grow as he was dubbed by Sports Illustrated as “The Chosen One” and the “Lebron James of Baseball.” 

 

Both Bryce and his parents knew that his development would plateau if he continued to face the low-level competition that his high school league had to offer.  At the age of 16 Bryce obtained his G.E.D.  and enrolled in South Nevada Community College – bypassing his final 2 years of highschool.  Coincidentally, this also made him eligible for the 2010 MLB draft.  As a result he became the consensus #1 pick of the 2010 draft. 

However, Harper being selected #1 overall is far from a lock.  In his first weekend playing for the South Nevada Coyotes he went 3 for 15 and had some difficulty adjusting to the use of a wood bat.  He is represented by Scott Boras, an immediate red flag in regards to his signability.  Harper is also futher away from contributing at the major league level than many other highly-touted collegiate pitchers. 

 

Harper will be splitting time this season between third base and catcher for two reasons.  First, some scouts fear that his body will outgrow the position of catcher so this gives them a look at Harper being able to play another position.  Second, it is in the drafting team’s best interest for him to move off the position to allow his bat to develop quicker.  His coach is not concerned with Bryce’s ability to catch: 

“I’m in the camp that thinks he can catch and thinks he can be a very good catcher,” the American League scout said. “I don’t think he dropped a ball all weekend. The release had some issues. Throwing to second base, it’s a little long, but the arm strength makes up for that for now. It’s something he’s probably going to have to shorten up. But, receiving-wise and blocking-wise, I think that’s going to be fine catching. I think that’s his best position. I know there are some nay-sayers with that, but I think he projects to be a good catcher. He stabs a little bit and he’ll get flinchy every now and then on a swing, but he’s a 17-year-old kid and that’s pretty normal for a player his age.” 

If the video below is any indication, his arm is fine behind the plate.  Watch him gun down a runner trying to steal 2B from his knees

[youtube R2kGLEfuOFM] 

The kind of pressure that the 17-year old Harper is experiencing and will experience is enormous. For Bryce’s first game at Southern Nevada CC, 1400 fans were in attendance.  That is 500 more than ever before, all there to see the young baseball phenom.  It is important to keep in mind that he is still a “kid” and should still be in highschool while he is playing against older players that are gunning for him.  The team has taken this into consideration and has imposed a ban on Harper speaking to media, scouts and even fans. This has left scouts exasperated because they can’t get a feel for his makeup – a component just as important as talent.  So what is Bryce all about? 

“I’m going to play against you the way Pete Rose did,” he says. “I’m going to try to rip your head off. That’s just the way I am. Old school. If I could play for a guy like Lou Piniella or Larry Bowa, I’d love it.” 

Bryce Harper is a classic “all-out, all the time” player.  Although not a vocal leader (remember, he is only 17!) when in high school he always discussed his ideas with coaches and teammates on how to get better and win, despite being surrounded by seniors: 

“I’m not a very vocal leader,” Harper said. “But if I want to get my point across, I’ll get it across. Maybe not vocally. Maybe it’s just playing hard. This year I had to take control of the team and say that we needed to be a team and not be individuals. Our whole team was leaders. Every guy on the team did something. All of us contributed. We were all leaders together.” 

I don’t mean to “Harp” (get it?) on this fact, but he is still a young kid.  During the 2009 AFLAC All-American game, Harper displayed his youthful exuberance during a pregame infield/outfield drill.  Midway through Harper’s session, he stepped back from home plate and turned his body toward the first base line.  Harper unleashed a screaming, straight line trajectory, missile down the right field line and over the fence in the corner, measuring a distance of 340 feet.  Fans were in awe and scouts took notice. 

 “I love the way people talk crap,” Harper says. “I hear it all the time. Overrated. You suck. I’ll just do something to shut them up, like, I’ll show you. It’s like in regular pregame work. I like to show off my arm. Just so it’s like, there you go. Don’t even think about trying to run.” 

Easy Bryce, I used to try to do that sort of thing when I was your age. Now my shoulder looks like it had a bad experience with a cheese grater.  

 

With Harper’s signability issues, the number of college arms and closer-to-being-MLB-ready talent in the draft, it is not inconceivable that Bryce could fall 7-11 places in the draft.  It is very difficult to project if a player can have a meaningful impact in the major leagues at 17 years old and not having played a single professional game.  With the Toronto Blue Jays selecting at 11th and publically stating that they have a substantial amount of funds earmarked for the draft, is it possible the Jays have finally found their catcher of the future? Yes, a lot of things have to go right for it to happen but a Jays fan can dream. 

“Bryce has a saying,” Ron (Bryce Harper’s father) says. “Whenever people say how good he is, he likes to say, ‘I’m not done yet. I still have work to do.’ He’s going to get a lot better, and I say that because of how hard he works. I don’t think he’ll ever rest on his laurels.” 

He hasn’t rested on his laurels.  Bryce Harper currently sits at a line of .349/.420/.744 with 3 home runs in 11 games. He’s also struck out 8 times in 43 AB and is 3 for 4 on stolen base attempts, having worked diligently to adjust to the wood-bat league.

[youtube 11P0yOZCptM] 

A 10-minute bio on Bryce Harper. 

[youtube 0-RkGZqpCfU] 

Harper’s first home run in a collegiate game. 

Written By

has written for Mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Callum on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram (@callumhughson)

  • Great article.

    Has anything been written about the Nationals depth at the catching position? The Nat’s #2 prospect is catcher Derek Norris.

    Will they pay the price, draft Harper and then trade Norris? Or will they save some cash and draft someone else in the #1 slot?

  • It is not clear that Harper will ultimately play at catcher in the bigs. He does have the athleticism to play almost anywhere on the diamond. It is hard to say what the Nats will end up doing. They paid the price for Strasburg, so if that is any precedent they will pay the price for Harper. It comes down to their drafting philosophy – do they draft for need or draft the best player available? And is Harper the best player available?

  • With an arm like that I would be tempted to put him in RF and have him throw lasers.

  • Harper’s way too valuable for the Nats to not take first overall. If bat fails him in the Bigs, they can always convert him into a pitcher. He’s got the stuff.

  • brent in Korea

    I think he’s way overhyped. He looks like he’s already grown into his man size, so it’s like a man playing boys. I would just draft him appropriate to the other talent in the draft.

  • Early

    Am I reading this right? That video is of a 15 yr old hitting a 500ft dinger?

  • There is a scout out there who doesn’t believe that Harper is a top 10 pick. There are concerns about his swing; apparently he will drag his hands through the zone. He has not shown that he can hit an above average-fastball (yet). He may have wowed scouts in workouts but he has yet to establish a record of hitting against above-average live pitching.

  • More on Harper:

    Scouts are noting privately that Harper tends to swing and miss a whole lot more than great young hitters usually do. So far this spring (while playing at a JuCo) he’s got 15 strikeouts in 56 at-bats, and is hitting .356.

    Scouts see how hard he plays; one scout compared his playing style to that of Kirk Gibson. But they wonder if he will be a guy who tries too hard, and whether he will cope with the inherent failure in baseball, given the pressure that he will face.

    Yes, he is big — but the scouts wonder if he is too big, and if the hype about him came too quickly.

    “Last year, at this time, there was no doubt — Strasburg was far and away the best player in the draft,” said one talent evaluator. “I don’t think that’s the case here.”

    Harper scares some evaluators — to the point that some teams are hoping that some other team, like the Nationals, takes him early in the draft. Because they recognize the possibility that Harper could become a star, and they don’t want to listen to years of second-guessing for their decision to pass on him.

  • This just in:

    It’s impossible to find any talent evaluator who isn’t blown away by Harper’s ability on the field, but it’s equally difficult to find one who doesn’t genuinely dislike the kid. One scout called him among the worst amateur players he’s ever seen from a makeup standpoint, with top-of-the-scale arrogance, a disturbingly large sense of entitlement, and on-field behavior that includes taunting opponents. “He’s just a bad, bad guy,” said one front-office official. “He’s basically the anti-Joe Mauer.” How this plays into the negotiation or future evaluation is yet to be determined, as history has shown us that the bigger talent a player is, the more makeup issues teams will deal with. Bench players can’t afford to be problems, but plenty of teams happily put up with difficult superstars.

    • Make-up is nice but a team isn’t going to win at the MLB level with 25 John McDonald types.

      • Of course. Ty Cobb was a sociopath, Albert Belle was a loose cannon, Barry Bonds was a dick. No team would avoid these players in the draft because of these character flaws.

  • Eddie tate

    He’s a beast on the field, but does kinda have a big head. I saw him get kicked out of juco world series game. Hes a kid thigh whatbdo u expect

  • altaf

    you can find much more about this person….. please visit beducated.blogspot.com

  • Johnjohn5303

    I am a fan of Bryce Harper, and have hopes of him also being an outstanding respectful person. He is a natural to me and seems to love playing. Now if the media will stay off his back and act human all may go well.

  • Kayla

    You just did amazing keep it up. You are the best your going to win the series. I love the nats. You can do anything when you believe. I’m 10 and your my inspiration. when ever i think i cant do something i think of you and how a 19 year old can be a famous amazing base ball player.