"Baseball scouts can have the bowed perspective of an Escher print, but most insist they have seen no player this good this soon. As far as they are concerned, Harper is a tape-measure-testing, laser-throwing, eyeblack-oozing baseball cyborg." - New York Times: Alan Schwarz - "At 17, Baseball’s Next Sure Thing: Bryce Harper"
The Washington Nationals drafted 50 players on June 7, 2010, starting with the no.1 overall pick in the draft, College of Southern Nevada catcher/outfielder Bryce Harper, a 17-year-old wunderkind who was immediately introduced as an outfielder by the Nats, with DC GM Mike Rizzo explaining the decision in a post-selection press conference:
"I think we made the early decision that we're going to take the rigors and the pressure of learning the difficult position of catcher away from him and really let him concentrate on the offensive part of the game and let his athleticism take over as an outfielder."
Harper told a group of Nats beat writers, in an exclusive teleconference that took place at Nationals Park, that he had no problem with making the transition from behind the plate to the outfield:
"I'm pretty excited, you know. I've played right field a couple times with USA and with my College of Southern Nevada, and I'm pretty stoked about that, but wherever they need me I'll play, I don't really care..."
All that was left to do was for the Nationals and Harper's representatives to agree on a contract. Asked if he was interested in getting his professional career started right away, Harper told the reporters that he was leaving that up to his agent, "The business has to take its course with [Scott] Boras," Harper said, "...and all the negotiations and stuff with Boras and everything like that, so just trying to see what happens there and whatever happens happens."
Whatever happens happens tonight for Bryce Harper.
The Nationals quickly inked 22 of their 50 picks, "...including 15 of the top 25," within a week of the draft, as Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore reported in an article entitled, "Nationals sign 22 draft picks". In early July, at an event in Nats Park for season ticket holders, the Nats' GM was asked to comment on this year's Draft class, and whether or not its top picks would hold out til the last minute as it's gone in previous seasons. Mr. Rizzo responded (with noticeable pride):
Mike Rizzo: "I think the guys that we're talking about, our 1st Round pick is [Bryce] Harper, our 2nd Round pick is Sammy Solis, he's a college left-handed pitcher, our 3rd Round pick, a shortstop from Rice, [Rick] Hague, we just signed him, he's on his way to the minor leagues, he was in the ballpark I think yesterday or the day before, he's on his way, and our 4th Round pick is A.J. Cole, who's a high school kid out of Florida, everyone else is signed, which is remarkable, a remarkable job by [Scouting Director] Kris Kline and [Asst. GM] Roy Clark [APPLAUSE], the word is out, we think we had a terrific draft this year, an impact draft, from all the people from the outside that have looked at it, if we get everybody signed that we want to sign, we will be voted the best draft in baseball..."
The next pick on the Nats' list, Robbie Ray, an 18-year-old, 6'2'' left-hander out of Tennessee agreed on a $799,000 bonus earlier today. Sammy Solis' $1M dollar deal was announced within the last few minutes, and A.J. Cole reportedly agreed to a deal already with the announcement possibly delayed because of how far over the MLB-recommended price tag for a 4th Round pick the Nats went to get Cole signed when he'd already committed to the University of Miami. Now it's all about Bryce Harper. The conversation this year is focused on just how much the 17-year-old power bat will command. Last year there was some question whether or not the Scott Boras' client would sign, and the Nats handed out the largest contract ever given to a draft pick. Harper's not expected to get more than Strasburg's 4-year/$15.1M dollar major league deal, but he's likely going to get the biggest deal ever given to a position player...If you're taking for granted he signs...How much is Bryce Harper going to get?