Door still open for Harper to participate in AFL

Nationals No. 1 draft selection Bryce Harper played his final instructional league game today in Orlando and then will head back to his hometown of Las Vegas.

If Harper has time in Las Vegas, he will likely workout with UNLV and his former college coach Tim Chambers on their first day of camp, which opens Wednesday.

But that does not mean Harper is done playing competitive baseball before 2011 spring training.

Despite not being on the initial Scottsdale Scorpions roster, there’s still a chance Harper could play in the elite league, which begins play today.

Harper said at the outset of his time in Viera that his goal was to play in the Arizona Fall League, a select offseason league filled with each team’s best hitting prospects and which is also close to Harper’s native Nevada.

Despite some reports that Harper needed time to regroup following instructs, the door has not been shut on Harper playing for Scottsdale.

Harper made steady strides working on his transition from catcher to the outfield during instructional camp.

“He needs improvement on finding the ball off the bat and routes to the ball,” pitching coach Paul Menhart said. “But he is an exceptional athlete and has such great baseball awareness that is off the charts. It won’t be tough for him to improve quickly in the outfield.”

Menhart says Harper reminds him a lot of Stephen Strasburg from last fall.

“It is freakish how good he is. He is so mature baseball wise and talent wise. I don’t think I have ever seen a player that mature physically at 17 years of age (18 on Saturday) ever.

“It is refreshing to see a kid who is only 17 that is that good already. Bryce loves playing the game.”

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