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Washington Nationals: Top 5 Stories Of 2010 - 4. Bryce Harper Signs.

4. Bryce Harper Signs: "The Nationals are very, very pleased to announce the first pick on the 2010 Draft is outfielder Bryce Harper from the College of Southern Nevada." - DC GM Mike Rizzo

For the second straight Draft, the Nats, picking first overall, took a player thought of in scouting circles as a once-in-a-generation talent. The 17-year-old catcher turned outfielder Bryce Harper's image was rendered perfectly in New York Times' writer Alan Schwarz's pre-draft article entitled, "At 17, Baseball’s Next Sure Thing: Bryce Harper", where the College of Southern Nevada catcher was described by scouts as, "...a tape-measure-testing, laser-throwing, eyeblack-oozing baseball cyborg." The Nats' Director of Scouting, Kris Kline, described Harper in a post draft press conference as being, "a cross between a Larry Walker-type guy," and, "...a little bit of J.D. Drew the way his hands work through the zone." Assistant GM and VP of Player Personnel Roy Clark who'd been watching Harper for over two years before joining the Nats and helping Washington make the decision to select him said the Nats had, "...scout[ed] him extensively," and come to the conclusion that Harper had, "...a chance to be a special type player on the field and special person off the field."

In the best draft year performance he could've hoped for, Harper hit for a ridiculous .442/.524/.986 slash line in a wood bat league (no PING!) while playing with and against players who were for the most part two years older than the SI cover kid and he ended his first season at CSN with 22 doubles, 4 triples, 29 HR's and 89 RBI's in 62 games and 215 at bats. Like the '09 no.1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg, however, Harper held out and didn't sign until the very last minutes before the mid-August deadline for inking this year's picks, so he saw no competitive action after his collegiate season ended, and is now in the Florida Instructional League testing his talents against some of the top young players in the country as the Nationals decide whether or not to include him on the Arizona Fall League roster where he'd play against some of the top prospects in baseball. 

The Nationals signed 25 of their top 26 picks this season, with Harper receiving a 5-year/$9.9M dollar major league deal which was the highest total ever given to a position player a year after the Nats set the standard for pitchers with the 4-year/$15.1M dollar deal they gave Strasburg. Washington's widely considered to have had the best draft class in baseball this season a year after taking two first round picks in '09, both of whom made it to the majors in their draft year. Harper's not likely to do the same, but he's already been tagged the right fielder of the future, be it in 2011, '12 or '13...