Anyone who has followed the last two years of Bryce Harper's development shrugged when talk of his slow start at Double-A Harrisburg surfaced. January 2010, Las Vegas Review-Journal. In an article by Todd Dewey entitled, "Sky's limit for phenom Harper, College of Southern Nevada", then-CSN baseball coach Tim Chambers talked about how Harper should be a junior in high school not a freshman in college, and about how, "Harper got off to a slow start in fall ball at CSN," before turning it around and eventually finishing his first year of college ball with a .443 AVG (101-for-228), 23 doubles, four triples, 31 home runs, 98 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 66 games.
Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore, in an October 2010 article entitled, "Bryce Harper is the center of attention at Arizona Fall League", discussed the 18-year-old's preparation for the Arizona Fall League and noted that when Harper first saw action in the Florida Instructional league he struggled at the plate, but, "The Nationals did not alter his swing, even as Harper got off to a slow start. He felt he needed at-bats to knock the rust off his swing, and by the end, he had."
After a successful stint playing part time in the Arizona Fall League, Harper hung around a little while longer than expected with the big league team this Spring, but, "When Harper got off to a slow start this spring," with the Class-A Hagerstown Suns as ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick wrote in an article on Harper's development entitled, "Bryce Harper's journey in its early stage":
"...the Nationals sent him for an eye exam, and they were stunned to discover how bad Harper's vision was. Harper was fitted for contact lenses and immediately went on a tear at the plate. It's frightening to think what might happen now that he can actually see."
With his vision corrected, "Harper laid waste to the South Atlantic League," as the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore wrote in an article (which is essentially the same thing as I've written here with less random quotes now that I look at it) entitled, "Bryce Harper’s early struggles in Harrisburg are nothing to worry about", in which WaPost writer noted that, "...that was only after he had seven hits and nine strikeouts in his first 31 at-bats."
"Harper is the youngest player in the Eastern League," the Washington Post's Nats beat writer observed, and he'll adjust to Double-A as he has to each previous level he's encountered, "It will just take time, and Harper knows from experience how that works."
"I struggle pretty much every time I get going at a new level," Harper told reporters this past Thursday before a Senators' game with the Richmond Spiders. "I struggled in high school a little bit, struggled in college a little bit, struggled in Single-A a little bit, and I'm not really struggling right now. The balls aren't falling. I'm hitting balls hard and having good at bats and that's all you can ask for." (Harper had a .226 BABIP heading into last night's game.)
The four-game series with the Squirrels which started Thursday night might be the start of something. After going 3 for 6 in a doubleheader Friday night, Harper's got a three-game hit streak going, after hitting in just one of his previous 21 at bats. The 18-year-old outfielder's now hitting .217 (10 for 46) with all ten hits singles, and 4 walks in 51 plate appearances. Unfortunately, Nats fans will have to wait til next season to read about Harper struggling at Triple-A or after that the major league level.