Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Let's Hear It For Bryce Harper: The Nationals Have Too Much Talent
For all the talk and hype of the overexposed phenom, upon the ultimate presumption of Bryce Harper, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2010 MLB Draft, it was the Washington Nationals birthright to reasonably offer baseball’s next megastar millions.
In the nation’s capital, the most complicated signing wasn’t poetic or plausible, even if he’s deemed as the “Chosen One” and the Most Exciting Prodigy Since LeBron,” a publicity gimmick featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated not long ago.
If each party had failed to reach a consensus before the clock struck midnight, it would have slightly been the most stunning development in baseball history.
By the time baseball’s amateur signing deadline loomed ever so closer, Harper and the Nationals reached an agreement on a fittingly $9.9 million, five-year deal. And finally, he agreed to terms on a contract, avoiding re-entry into the 2011 draft.
He rightfully so benefits from a franchise that is aiming to improve by building a legitimate force around the rookie sensation and No. 1 draft choice Stephen Strasburg, who accepted a record-breaking $15.1 million, four-year deal a year ago.
The anonymity continuously added to the possibility of losing out on the rights of the biggest name to generate such widespread consideration, and the near-casualties almost cost the franchise, but the Nationals were fortunate enough to considerably land the talented prospects.
Nationals' general manager Mike Rizzo pulled off a miracle as the clock almost struck midnight and offered Harper a comfortable deal. The diplomacy has empowered Rizzo to somehow urge stubborn agent Scott Boras.
In the end of all the eternal and intense conversations, the two negotiators were able to relate and eventually finalize a contract before deadline. Rizzo aggressively bid for Harper, who is compared to Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez for his abilities to connect in one swing and deposit homers.
If the folks residing in the nation’s capital are really fortunate to witness and anoint the high-profile stars, then it’s easy to say that baseball emerges as a relevant theme in a town where the game was very uneventful.
But the arrival of Strasburg uplifted the fans curiosity at National Park, urging a crowd to fill in the stands at the hottest venue and adore the magnetic star. His impressive debut in Washington defined a convincing performance.
In a short time span, he’s growing as a legend for repairing relevancy, and inserting a sense of pride on a disastrous franchise that suddenly is worth cheering and even watching regularly.
And now, we all know that Harper hit .443 with 31 homers and 98 RBIs at Southern Nevada, and became the second junior college player to win the Golden Spikes Award in 33 years.
Those were the days when he was the top amateur player in the nation and impressed scouts at such a young age.
Nowadays, he’s projected to claim stardom, but nonetheless lacks maturity that could raise concern.
In the past, he was tossed and suspended for arguing with an umpire during the Junior College World Series. This season, he was ejected for mocking opponents, and his trademark is grabbing all the unnecessary attention.
The symbolic eyeblack is the ugliest style ever seen and it’s not a game face, but the silliest face in sports.
If he is wearing his eyeblack all over the place when he takes the field in the near future, he would be identified as a clown on the field as if National Park is hosting the most entertaining circus.
But this is a whole new ballgame, and in reality, this is the Major Leagues, not the Little League or Junior League. In a town that is overwhelmed to possess the sensational catcher, who’ll be making a transition to outfielder, he’s badly needed to lift a franchise out of inferiority.
What we have now is a power-hitting 17-year-old, with the urgency and poise to rise at the major-league level and delight overjoyed fans. The signing of Harper was very significant for a franchise long awaiting prosperity.
In a celebration on Tuesday, team president Stan Kasten smashed a cream pie in Rizzo's face. It was well-deserving for a man who has constructed aspiration and life for a resuscitated franchise.
It’s easy enough to credit Rizzo for thinking intelligently in a rebuilding process, managing to sign the No. 1 pick before the midnight deadline.
Maybe he’s so persuasive, intriguing and brainwashing Boras' mind. Maybe he offers millions to satisfy players’ wishes, such as when Harper had finally signed to avoid declaring for the draft for the second straight year.
“[Harper] gives us another impact player in the system,” Rizzo said. “We feel we’ve really become a deep system with not only good major-league prospects but sprinkling in several impact-type players.
“He could possibly be a cornerstone of our lineup in the very near future.”
Oh, he will be a cornerstone, all right.
The accurate assumptions by Rizzo, the genius coming away victorious in every draft, are signs of motivation and self-confidence for Harper in the big leagues, increasing the raw talent of a versatile phenom.
For a battered franchise with limited goodness, the last thing the Nationals need is underperformers and faltering star players. By meeting expectations, Harper might instantly change the landscape and fuel a sense of happiness by accumulating victories and producing triumph for a harmless club.
If not, the Nationals in all likelihood would still earn attention nationwide and ratings may expand, simply for what could be a prodigy in the league, a gifted player with the knack to captivate viewers.
And then again, he might not adapt as quickly as most are predicting. But as advertised, he might not only be the face of the Nationals, but the face of baseball in general.
The hideous eyeblack conceivably is a useful concept that he could be the face of the majors.
First, if he wants to prove worthy and claim greatness, he will have to be called up from the minor-league system but the Nationals maintain the leverage on that one. If so, it’s easy to suggest that he’s a valuable piece. It is also rational to believe that he has the potential to be an All-Star.
If so, the fans kindly will elevate Harper’s notability at the highest level.
On the same night, the Nationals signed 25 of their top 26, including their second-round and fourth-round picks and left-handed pitcher Sammy Solis and right-handed pitcher A.J. Cole to contracts worth seven figures.
The common ritual for the Nationals is aggressively signing the deepest talent in the draft, despite almost losing out on Harper. The familiarity is discovered oftentimes on You Tube as the videos of his spectacular displays have brainwashed the nation.
From his features, he seems to be very legit and crafty in chasing and connecting with pitches by employing a powerful swing. But with all evidence that he’s self-absorbed and cocky, he is ranked atop all baseball prospects in a generation when his talent is admired globally, and most notably in Major League Baseball.
On Sunday, Strasburg's comments jolted the headlines when he boldly called out Harper for holding out.
Here’s what he had to let out. “If he doesn’t want to play here, then we don’t want him here.”
However, the comments he delivered were surprising, but may have been a reality check.
By all accounts, Harper wants to play in the District of Columbia.
But he is, nonetheless, represented by a greedy and influential agent. More interestingly, Strasburg is represented by Boras, too, and signed late as the deadline approached ever closer a year ago.
Aside from that drama, Harper is described as LeBron.
He never hijacked television to announce how much the deal was worth with the Nationals, but agreed in terms before deadline.
By all means, he won’t need much time to develop or adapt to the highest level. After a monstrous college career, he must now translate similar attributes in the big leagues.
Is he the next greatest slugger and star in baseball?
Maybe he is the most talented 17-year-old and smartest kid, after skipping his final two years of high school to receive his GED and enter junior college to be drafted a year earlier.
With high expectations, he’s as advertised and won’t disappoint.
Suddenly, a lifelong dream likely becomes a lifetime accomplishment.