With the Nationals signing their No. 1 overall selection Bryce Harper, his college coach, Tim Chambers, said the Nats are getting the “greatest amateur baseball player of all time”.
Jim Callis of Baseball America called him the best hitting prospect he had ever seen at the amateur level.
A source with knowledge of the situation says Harper is expected to first play in the instructional league and then go to the prestigious Arizona Fall League, the same league Stephen Strasburg played in last season after signing with the Nationals.
The 17-year-old Harper hit .443 at the College of Southern Nevada in his lone collegiate season, setting school records with 31 homers and 98 RBI. The previous season, the Coyotes had hit only 17 homers as a team.
He guided Southern Nevada to an appearance in the JUCO World Series and won the Golden Spikes Award as the nation’s best amateur player.
Chambers believes Harper is good enough to be playing in the majors in 24 months.
“Bryce can really, really hit,” Chambers said. “He thinks he can hit anybody. He can hit balls for home runs.”
The Nationals plan to convert Harper to the outfield to get his bat to the majors faster and show off his arm strength.
Chambers feels Harper will be able to transition from catcher to outfielder, saying, “He didn’t get a lot of time in the outfield with us, as much as he needed, but he is very athletic. With game time and batting practices, seeing balls off bats, he will learn quickly.
“I felt like we could put him any place on field and after one month he would be the best out there on defense. He will figure it out in the outfield. He will make an easy transition.”