You might not have recognized him out there without the eye black that was the trademark of the Washington Nationals' 2010 no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper during his prospect days, but as soon as he started swinging during his first BP in Nationals Park, there was no doubt about who it was at the plate. MLB.com's Bill Ladson was there along with the majority of the Nats beat writers and he captured some of the action live on the Twitter:
MLB.com's Bill Ladson @WashingNats: "What a shot! It was an Adam Dunn-type home run RT @washingnats: Bryce #Harper hit a ball in the third deck in right field at #Nats Park.
Sporting a mohawk and showing off the power that allowed him to hit for an absurd .443/.526/.987 slash line, with 23 doubles, 4 triples, 31 HR's, 98 RBI's and 20 steals in 66 games and 228 AB's during his freshman year as an underaged Junior College student at the College of Southern Nevada while playing with and against players two years older than he was, Harper impressed everyone who watched what he was able to do this afternoon.
At 5:45 pm EST, the Nationals will officially introduce the 17 (going on 18 in October) outfielder to the D.C. baseball media in a press conference that will be broadcast live on MASN and streamed live on MASNSports.com. The Nationals held Stephen Strasburg's press conference on the field last year, but the Nats' '09 1st Round pick was considered to be a lot closer to the Majors, and the fact that the Nats had signed him when many in baseball doubted they'd be able to get a deal done provided more of a reason for a celebratory event.
Strasburg signed a 4-year/$15.1 million major league dollar deal, and the Nats who finished with the worst record in baseball for the second-straight year in '09, were the first team in the history of the draft to pick no.1 overall in two straight seasons. Harper's deal, a 5-year/$9.9 million dollar major league deal set a precendent for what a position player was able to command in the draft, just as Strasburg's deal set the mark for pitchers. Believed by some to be two or three years away from playing in the majors, Harper is nonetheless considered a can't miss prospect, and though batting practice is not way to judge how he'll perform against major league competition there's little doubt that anyone who watched what he was able to do came away impressed.
• Several reports are alread posted:
• Washington Post Nationals Journal Adam Kilgore- "Bryce Harper goes long at batting practice"
"Washington Nationals top pick Bryce Harper took batting practice today at Nationals Park before his introductory news conference, and in front of team executives, agent Scott Boras, players from both teams and a throng of media he promptly deposited a pitch into the third deck in right field."
• NATS INSIDER - Mark Zuckerman - "Strasburg on pace to return Tuesday"
"There's a game to be played tonight, and there's a pretty important storyline to it with Jordan Zimmermann returning to the mound 12 months after undergoing Tommy John surgery. But I'd be remiss if I didn't mention what's taking place on the field right now."
• MASNSports.com Ben Goessling: The Goessling Game: Bryce Harper taking BP at Nationals Park
"Dressed in Nationals workout gear and sporting a mohawk, Harper has already knocked one off the facing of the third deck, and then put one in the third deck. He hit back-to-back shots into both bullpens, has put several balls in the second deck and is consistently driving the ball out of the park to right center. "
• Follow Press Conference Live: We'll be watching the Bryce Harper Press Conference here and updating in the comments section before tonight's game if you want to follow along as the Nats' 2010 1st Round pick is introduced to the press:
Bryce Harper is Here....