After announcing early this morning that the Washington Nationals had promoted 2010 no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper from Class-A Hagerstown to Double-A Harrisburg, D.C. GM Mike Rizzo appeared on 106.7 the Fan in D.C.'s "The Mike Rizzo Show" to talk to MASN and 106.7 the Fan's Byron Kerr about the team's decision. "We had a plan all along to cultivate [Bryce Harper] in a specific manner," Rizzo said, "We feel that he's had plenty of time at the Class-A level, dominated it pretty well, honed his skills," and prepared himself to take the next step. With Class-A Hagerstown, the 18-year-old outfielder hit 17 doubles, one triple, 14 HR's and put up a .318/.423/.554 slash line in 72 games and 258 at bats.
"We felt that the logical step was to get him to Double-A ," Rizzo continued, "prepare him for the Arizona Fall League after the season is over, [and] so we decided to give him approximately two months in Double-A after playing about two and a half months in A-ball." Asked about the coaching staff he'll be working with at Harrisburg, which includes Senators' manager Tony Beasley and batting coach Troy Gingrich, the Nats' GM said the Nationals have a plan for Harper, and, "His plan goes with him whatever level he's at. Tony [Beasley] has got big league experience as a field member, and we feel good about the hitting instructor. We're going to have Tony Tarasco, our outfield and baserunning coordinator with him in Harrisburg to begin his career for the next week or so and with Doug Harris, our farm director living there in Harrisburg we feel it's a good fit for him, to make him comfortable and get him relaxed at that level."
The reason Harper's jumping from Low to Double-A, Rizzo explained, has to do with the desire to get the 18-year-old catcher-turned-outfielder time at Harrisburg before he returns for a full-time stint in the AFL. "I wanted him to get two months into Double-A," Rizzo said, "to prepare him for the Arizona Fall League and to do that we would had to have played him in Potomac for three weeks or a month and then [move him] to Harrisburg. We figured that since the level of play in A-ball is comparable at each place, we felt that he had a comfort level there at Hagerstown, and we left him there for a good amount of at bats for about two and a half months and we figured that we would challenge him to the next level in Double-A without a stop in the higher-A level just to prepare him more or less for the Fall League.
Harper played 20 games in center for the Hagerstown Suns and 51 in right at Class-A, but he's going to be asked to try another outfield position in Harrisburg. "He's going to play all three outfield positions," Rizzo said, "but we're going to specifically train him in Harrisburg to play left field, that's the one spot that the hasn't played yet. He kind of split his time, two games in right field, one game in center field there at Hagerstown. He'll get the majority of his reps in left field just to get him a feel for all there outfield positions, because depending on what the roster composition is at the time he gets to the big leagues, will depend on where plays in the outfield."
• Bryce Harper's batting sixth (wearing no. 34) and playing left behind Senators' right-hander Brad Peacock tonight. The game starts at 7:00 pm EST...Who's Watching, Following, Listening To Harper's Debut?