• Update: 11/11 - Bryce Harper was 2 for 3 with an RBI double and a single in the Scottsdale Scorpions' 3-2 win over the Phoenix Desert Dogs on Friday afternoon. Harper's first hit of the game extended his current hit streak to 16-straight games.
Bryce Harper was the no.1 prospect on Baseball America's Aaron Fitt's list of the Washington Nationals Top 10 Prospects for the second-straight season. The left-handed hitting slugger is also listed as the "Best Power Hitter" in the organization with the "Best Outfield Arm", though 2011 1st Round pick 3B Anthony Rendon replaces Harper as the "Best Hitter for Average" in the organization. Rendon's yet to play a game as a pro, however. Harper, 19, finished his first pro season with a .297/.392/.501 slash, 24 doubles and 17 HR's. In his second stint in the Arizona Fall League, the preternaturally-gifted hitter has a .308/.375/.615 line with four doubles and six HR's, five of them in his last ten games.
In an interview on MLB Network Radio Wednesday afternoon, D.C. GM Mike Rizzo was asked to provide an update on Harper's development and work in the Arizona Fall League. "He was terrific out there," Rizzo said, "I was out there for five games and I happened to catch him when he was actually on fire which was really exciting to see. I look at a guy who's got power potential, has the ability to put the bat on the ball consistently, he has the uncanny ability to swing and create extreme bat speed and still keep the bat through the hitting zone for a long, long time and is very, very balanced. So, it's kind of a unique hitting style and situation."
"He's got great power," the Nats' general manager continued, "The thing I like [is] he's really come a long way in the outfield, left field and right field, he plays both. He's improving dramatically. I saw him backing up bases instinctually and not having to really think about it, so he's come a long way in that. His base running has improved a lot, he's a very aggressive base stealer, as you know, but learning to take things when they're given to him. Go first to third, second to home, and that type of thing. So he's working on the nuances of the game. We all see the great power that he has, the ability to hit, but he's really working on the small intricate things that make you a major league player."
The "small intricate things" or the, "... secrets of baseball that everyone needs to know," as Bryce Harper described them on the MLB Network during the recent AFL Rising Stars game. "He's coming fast, and there's no telling where this guy is going to end up," Mike Rizzo told the MLB Network Radio hosts, "He's a 19-year-old player, but he's extremely talented, but we're going to let him go at his own pace." The Nats' GM says that the young slugger has a high baseball IQ, "His baseball acumen is off the charts. With the exposure and the attention he gets at every stop that he makes, I think he's handled himself as well as I can expect him to handle it."
Harper was joined on Baseball America's Top 10 list by four members of the Nats' 2011 Draft class. Anthony Rendon, the no.6 overall pick this past June, is ranked second overall, the top infielder in the system before he's played a professional game. Brian Goodwin, the 34th pick of the Draft, is the second-highest-ranked outfielder behind Harper, 5th overall in the organization in Baseball America's estimation. U of K right-hander Alex Meyer, taken with the 23rd pick, finished 6th on BA's list. 3rd Round pick Matt Purke was the top-ranked left-hander, 7th overall.
Sammy Solis, the Nationals' 2010 2nd Round pick, follows Purke in the 8th spot. D.C. GM Mike Rizzo identified the 23-year-old left-hander a "sleeper" prospect in the MLB Network Radio interview. In his second stint in the AFL, Solis has a (1-1) record with a 4.50 ERA in 7 games and 26.0 IP for the Scottsdale Scorpions in which he's given up 29 hits, 15 runs, 13 earned and 16 walks while recording 25 K's. "Sam Solis is a guy that's got power stuff from the left side as a pitcher," Rizzo said, "He was 93-96, he's got a plus changeup. We're revamping, taking him from a spiked curve ball, which he had trouble commanding to a more traditional curve ball, and if that becomes a useable pitch for him, this guy could go quickly, and take off and be a real factor for us in the very near future."
• Check out the entire Baseball America 2012 Top 10 Prospects List HERE.