Baseball: Bryce Harper tops draft class of 2010

By Paul Hurst

bryce harper

With the first overall pick in Monday night’s Major League Baseball draft, the Washington Nationals selected Bryce Harper, a catcher out of the College of Southern Nevada.

Harper was the consensus number one pick prior to the draft, and has been making headlines on and off the field for well over a year.

His reputation on the field has preceded him for a number of years now, dating back to 2005, when he was talked of as being the best 12-year-old hitter in the country. Back then, he was already playing for the top junior ‘travel teams’ in tournaments across the country.

Harper came to national prominence last year after he featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, where he was described as ‘the LeBron James of baseball’. He made further national headlines after enacting his plan to leave high school two years early and go to junior college, so that he would be eligible for this year’s draft, at the age of 17.

The Nevada native has become known for his hitting; his 500ft+ home run in a showcase at Tropicana Field has been shown on television numerous times since, and he has compiled record numbers in his sole season at CSN.

Catcher has been his position at college, but there was some added intrigue when he was announced as an outfielder by Commissioner Selig when the pick was made by the Nationals. The positional designation is the choice of the player.

This is perhaps a sign that he is determined to reach the Major League level as quickly as he possibly can. All things being equal it shouldn’t take him as long to get up to standard as an outfielder, as it will to be a Major League ready catcher, a position with a longer learning curve.

In an interview with the MLB Network, Harper was clearly excited about moving one step closer to achieving his dream of playing professional baseball, an ambition he said he has held since he was seven years old. He also stated that he was willing to play wherever the Nationals need him.

With the second pick, the Pittsburgh Pirates took the top high school pitching prospect Jameson Taillon, out of The Woodlands HS in Texas.

A pair of shortstops went third and fourth, with high-schooler Manny Machado going to the Orioles, and Christian Colon of Cal State – Fullerton to the Kansas City Royals.

The top college pitching prospect went to the Cleveland Indians, who took left-hander Drew Pomeranz out of Ole Miss with the fifth pick. He was closely followed by Barret Loux, a right-hander out of Texas A&M, who was taken by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the sixth pick.

The New York Mets took another righty, Matt Harvey out of the University of North Carolina with the seventh pick.

The top ten was rounded out with Delino DeShields Jr (CF) going eighth to the Astros, Karsten Whitson (RHP) ninth to the Padres, and Michael Choice (CF) out of the University of Texas going to the Oakland Athletics with the tenth pick.

As for Harper, the decision on what position he will play is ultimately up to the Nationals – as will the decision as to just how big his payday will be. Whether it will be bigger than Steven Strasburg’s last year remains to be seen.

Strasburg made his Major League debut for the Nationals on Tuesday night, almost exactly a year to the day since he was drafted and looked every bit as good as promised. If Harper turns out even nearly is good, the Nats have a bright future ahead.

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