It is always fun when you can complete a top 10 list and your No. 1 prospect in the organization is considered arguably the best amateur hitting prospect of all time.
Bryce Harper was picked No. 1 overall by the Nationals in the June draft, signed in mid-August, played in the instructional league and then rode the taxi squad in Scottsdale to the Arizona Fall League title.
With naysayers skeptical of his placement in the advanced league in the first place, Harper went out and hit a startling .343 in nine games with 12 hits, one homer and seven RBIs.
Baseball America’s top prospects list for the National League East hits news stands today. Aaron Fitt of Baseball America has Harper as the No. 1 overall prospect in the Nats’ system for good reason.
“We kind of regard him as the most hyped, certainly, and maybe the best amateur hitting prospect ever,” Fitt said. “That was a year after the Nationals got the most hyped and maybe the best pitching prospect in the draft ever in (Stephen) Strasburg.
“It is ridiculous to have back-to-back years to get that kind of player. In each case, it is a guy with almost once-in-a-generation talent entering your system. Harper is special, he really is. It is almost impossible to overstate how much potential this guy has.”
So when you have a player like Harper coming in, with so many people talking about him, can it be overwhelming? Maybe to a lot of players. But not Harper.
“There is always a danger, I guess, of setting unrealistic expectations for a kid who is just 18 years old,” Fitt said. “At this point, I am ready to throw caution to the wind. It is OK to believe the hype with this guy. He has had it his whole life. He has never backed down from it.”
Fitt believes Harper can be very good because he already has made quick advancements at the amateur level.
“He couldn’t have been more hyped as a freshman at the College of Southern Nevada after skipping the last two years of high school,” Fitt said. “All he did was hit 30 home runs with a wood bat, shatter every record and win the Golden Spikes Award. He can handle it.”
Fitt breaks down Harper’s game and doesn’t really find any missing pieces - besides pro experience.
“(Harper) has really spectacular power,” Fitt said. “He has top-of-the-scale arm strength. He can run. I think he is going to hit for average because he is smart enough to make adjustments. He is a really hard worker and has great hand-eye coordination. Harper really is the whole package.”
My complete audio interview with Fitt available at nationals360.com.