In Cleveland, I got the opportunity to speak with Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo regarding this year’s #1 first-year player selection, catcher/outfielder Bryce Harper.
Mike, having worked with agent Scott Boras while signing Stephen Strasburg last season, does that give you a leg up in the negotiations with Bryce Harper this year?
“Each case with each individual and each representative is unique. We are not going to put any timetables on it. We feel with Bryce like we did with Stephen, if two parties want to make a deal, a deal will be made. So, we are optimistic about it.”
Is Bryce that unique offensive player like Stephen Strasburg is as a pitcher?
“He is a unique talent. He has done something that no one has ever done before in the history of the draft. He is a unique player and a guy we would really like to get in the system.”
Because Bryce is just 17, are you going to develop him slowly in the organization or can he make the jump to the majors quickly because of his explosive bat?
“Yes, we have to be careful. We will be cautious. We are cautious with all of our players and prospects. Fortunately, I have been through this before with a young 17-year old Justin Upton while I was with the Arizona Diamondbacks. I have experience with this.
We are going to develop him at his own pace. We will develop him the way I believe he should be developed. I think he will be a fine talent in the major leagues and an impact player.
How about the Nats draft besides Bryce Harper, were you please with the choices?
“We were very pleased getting a left handed power pitcher like Sammy Solis, a college guy, and going and getting a high ceiling, high school pitcher like A.J. Cole. We had a definitive plan going into the draft. Roy Clark and Kris Kline followed out the road map. Once we get these guys signed and in the system we will really reap the benefits of what these guys are.”
The team announced the signing of 22 players Monday from the draft with the highest signing being 5th round SS Jason Martinson out of Texas State University.