The Nationals instructional league team has completed their first weekend of work in Viera, Florida, with game one set for Thursday against the Atlanta Braves.
Bryce Harper had a good opening three days, getting started in the pros with his new teammates and coaches.
Nationals hitting instructor Rick Schu says the team’s number one pick should have no trouble switching from his familiar catching spot to the outfield.
“He can catch. He can play infield, he can play outfield,” Schu said. “I watched him throw today from the outfield. He looks real smooth and fluid. I think it will be pretty easy for him to make the transition.”
Schu says he has been impressed with Harper since the first day.
“He is a great kid. With all the hype, it’s a lot of added pressure with the buildup and everything. The biggest thing for him is just to make sure he doesn’t go out there and try so hard. He handles himself really well. He has just been getting after it.”
And the team has embraced him. Harper says he is already familiar with a few of the guys as teammates in college and with Team USA.
“He is getting along great with his teammates,” Schu said. “Harper is getting all his extra work in. He was the last guy off the field today. He is just a first class kid. So far everything I have heard about him has been true.”
Schu had a dozen years of experience building up the Arizona Diamondbacks and is no stranger to working with top talents, such as Stephen Drew and Justin Upton.
“They weren’t as high profile as Bryce is, but still these guys were number one picks,” Schu said. “Justin was a number one pick in the nation. It is tough. It is a big responsibility.
“What those two guys did is they played the game right. They played it hard. Their teammates respected them. The fans love them. They put up the numbers. Both those guys are established major leaguers now. I see Bryce doing the same thing.
“He eats, drinks and sleeps baseball, I can tell you that. Good things are going to happen with this kid. It is really exciting just to get a chance to work with him.”