2010 no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper, according to Patriot News' reporter Geoff Morrow (on Twitter @patriotnews_gmo), worked out a deal with Harrisburg Senators' reliever Hassan Pena to get the no. 34 Senators jersey from the 26-year-old '06 13th Round pick. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but when Harper took the field for the first time in a Harrisburg Senators jersey he was batting sixth, playing left, and wearing the number that's already appearing on Nationals' name and number t-shirts in the nation's capital.
Harper hit 17 doubles and 14 HR's in 72 games and 258 Class-A at bats, posting a .318/.423/.554 slash before being moved up to Double-A Harrisburg for tonight's game. The Nationals announced the move this morning, and the Senators reportedly sold over 2,000 tickets on the 4th of July to completely fill up Metro Bank Park in Harrisburg, PA. The Senators (on Twitter @hbgSenators) said that it was, "Easily our best crowd of the season. So alive and loud," and it only got louder as the Senators got out to an early 5-0 lead on starting with back-to-back HR's by Derek Norris and Bill Rhinehart after a leadoff double by Josh Johnson.
The three hits to start the Senators' first guaranteed Bryce Harper's debut at the plate would come in the first and he didn't disappoint, lining the first pitch he saw from Erie SeaWolves' pitcher Mark Sorensen, a 25-year-old right-handed Detroit Tigers' prospect, into center for a two-out single. Harper would later score the fourth run of the inning on an RBI single by Stephen King to get his first hit and run scored at Double-A out of the way. The Erie right-hander was reportedly not happy about throwing the ball from Harper's first hit into the dugout for preservation.
Next time up Harper got a first-pitch change from the Tigers' prospect, who went with two offspeed pitches to start Harper in his second at bat. Harper fouled off the second change, took two pitches, fouled off another and eventually popped a 2-2 fastball up to third base for his first Double-A out. Harper's third at bat was against SeaWolves' right-hander Jared Gayhart in the fifth inning of what was then an 8-0 game courtesy of the second HR's of the game by Derek Norris and Bill Rhinehart. Gayhart, 24, an '08 13th Round pick, got ahead 1-2 on Harper, but gave up a leadoff single for Harper's second Double-A hit. The aggressive 18-year-old then went first-to-third on an infield grounder when he realized no one was covering third, though he was eventually stranded.
A four-pitch walk in his final at bat of the night left Harper 2 for 3 with a walk and a run scored in his debut. The next big Harper event? Sunday afternoon at the All-Star Futures game, and tonight's starter Brad Peacock will be there too. Peacock went 6.0 innings, allowing five hits, one run, an earned one and two walks. The Nats' 23-year-old right-hander threw 96 pitches, 65 strikes and struck out nine on the night. Derek Norris finished the game 3 for 4 with a double, two HR's and three RBI's. First baseman Bill Rhinehart hit two HR's of his own, going 2 for 3. The Senators win, 8-1 final.