This archived article was written by: Travon Langston
I had the opportunity to be associated with Bryce Harper at Las Vegas High School. Freshman year Harper played for the football team. During one of the hitting drills Harper broke his pinky, one of the best days of his life. As a result of the injury, Harper’s father told him he couldn’t play football anymore because it would affect his baseball career. Great call by Harper’s father. Not only was he named National Homerun Derby showcase MVP, but he was also on the television show E60. Naming Harper the LeBron James of baseball is phenomenal.
He dropped out of high school his sophomore year to get his GED in October 2009, making him eligible for the June 2010 amateur draft in order to begin his professional baseball career earlier. For the 2010 college season, 17-year-old Harper enrolled at the College of Southern Nevada in NJCAA the Scenic West Athletic Conference. An advantage for Harper in his transition to his professional career was that the SWAC, like MLB, uses wooden bats in conference play. In 66 games, he hit 31 home runs and had 98 RBIs, hitting .443/.526/.987 (AVG/OBP/SLG). His 31 home runs shattered the school’s previous record of 12. He was named the 2010 SWAC Player of the Year. Harper also won the 2010 Golden Spikes Award.
Harper was drafted No. 1 overall by the Washington Nationals in 2010. He became the Nationals’ second consecutive number one overall pick of the Major League Baseball Draft, following Stephen Strasburg in 2009. In high school and in college Harper predominantly played catcher, the Nationals drafted him as an outfielder to extend his career and to accelerate his player development, so that he could debut in MLB earlier. During 2012 spring training, Harper was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, where he started the season, playing centerfield. Harper was called up to the Nationals on April 27 as Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the Disabled List. He made his MLB debut with the Nationals the next day against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Harper grounded out to the pitcher Chad Billingsley in his first career Major League at bat. He recorded his first Major League hit with a double in his third at-bat against Billingsley and got his first RBI on a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth against Javy Guerra.
After being hit by a pitch in the first inning on May 6, 2012 and advancing to third, Harper stole home plate, becoming the first teenager in MLB to steal home plate since 1964. On May 14, Harper hit his first Major League home run off of San Diego Padres pitcher Tim Stauffer. He was the youngest player to homer in the major leagues since Adrián Beltré in 1998. He was named National League Rookie of the Month for May. On June 12 he hit his first home run against the Toronto Blue Jays, hitting the ball 438 feet. Harper was named a candidate in the All-Star Final Vote, with the winner being added to the All-Star Game roster. Harper finished third behind David Freese and Michael Bourn. Harper would become the youngest position player, and third-youngest player behind Dwight Gooden and Bob Feller, to ever make an All-Star roster.
Harper was named the National League Rookie of the Year for 2012. He received 112 votes, 16 of them first-place votes, beating Arizona’s Wade Miley 105 votes, 12 first-place and Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier. Starting the 2013 season Harper hit two home runs on Opening Day. He became the youngest major league player, at age 20, to hit two home runs in his team’s first game of the season. With promising Statistics, Harper could be in the running to become the 2013 MVP.