In an appearance Tuesday on ESPN980's The Sports Fix with Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro, the Washington Nationals' no.1 overall pick from the 2010 Draft, Bryce Harper, who'll likely play his first competitive game in the Nats' system on Thursday in Viera, Florida, said that he has "no clue" what lies ahead after the Florida Instructional League wraps up, but, "...being out here in 'Instructs' you learn a lot of great things,":
"I've got a couple more weeks after this and then we'll see what happens after that. I don't know if I'll go to the Arizona Fall [League] or not, or whatever they have in store for me, but I'd love to go out there and see some of that pitching out there and get a lot better in the outfield out there, and just see some live pitching and some guys that can actually bring it a little bit."
Harper, who assures fans that he will be wearing the no.34 when he makes it to the majors, (in part because it makes him look bigger stretched across his back), says he watched the Nats' '09 no.1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg's debut this past June, and noted what the Nationals Park crowd was like that night, "...and how electric that was and great that was, and it was incredible to see the Nats fans get behind him and just make him feel like he was at home."
Harper got a small taste of how hungry the nation's capital's fans are for a winner when he was in Nationals Park to take BP and introduce himself to the national press last month. "I went out there and did some things and swung the bat a little bit and I feel like the Nats fans were the best fans in the country," Harper said, "They were the nicest and they were just great." As for any personal relationship with Strasburg, who, according to Washington Post writer Dave Sheinin's article yesterday has been hard to get in touch with in the weeks since he had Tommy John surgery, Harper says he's talked to him a couple times, "[and] he actually sent me a text a couple days ago and asked me how things were going and stuff like that, and hoping I was doing well, he's a great guy."
The more generous estimates still have Harper a few years away from the Majors, but the 17-year-old outfielder, who'll turn 18 a few days after the Nats' prospects in the Arizona Fall League play their first game in mid-October, seems to realize that he's already begun the process of working his way up, as tough as it will be. "I love challenges," Harper said, "I love going and playing against guys that are better than me, and guys out on the mound that are 97 and spot up, and things like that, and if I get dominated one game and I come back the next game and go 3 for 4 I'll be happy. It's just the process of being here and facing the guys that I am, but I want to get up [to the Majors] as fast as I can and I want to go through the system as fast as I can, and I've got to work hard, I've got a lot of things that I gotta learn, and it's just the process and I've got to learn some things and just try to get better hitting-wise and learning pitches and learning the outfield, and just, I want to get up there and be able to get in there and be able to help the team win and have a winning program up in the big leagues and be able to bring a World Series back to Washington."