The Single-A Potomac Nationals are a likely destination of No. 1 overall draft pick Bryce Harper sometime this summer. Director of player development Doug Harris anticipates Harper will begin the season in Single-A Hagerstown.
Judging by his impressive taxi squad performance for the Arizona Fall League champion Scottsdale Scorpions, Harper will be smacking extra base hits in Woodbridge, Va., pretty early in the season and could spend about a month or so at Pfitzner Stadium.
There he will work with the P-Nats’ new hitting coach, Mark Harris, who comes over from the Kansas City Royals organization.
Harris detailed his philosophy with hitters when they first arrive on the team.
“I think you have to go on an individual basis,” Harris said. “You have to get to know the kids. One thing you don’t want to do is let failure go on for so long and not try to step in and do a little something about it. Because there (are)145 games in 150 days, the day to day process of what goes on, failure can creep in pretty fast.”
“For most of these young guys they were the best players where they were at some time, whether it was the best high school player or best college player. They have not faced a major amount of failure in their careers. It is going to happen. It is just the way it is. I think you have to go at it individually with each and every player. A lot of times with hitters, sometimes you will try to help and sometimes they won’t be real receptive to it until they hit the bottom. That is when you want them to come to you because they are ready to learn.”
Harris will certainly know how to handle a talent like Harper because he has had experience with high drafted players while with the Royals.
“I was fortunate enough to work with some good players over there. Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, obviously those are the two names that people talk about,” Harris said. “The best thing about those guys were they were high draft picks but you couldn’t tell if they whether they got a dime or $4 or $5 million dollars to play.They came to the ballpark every day and bought into the philosophy of going out and working hard at it and expecting good results.”
But it won’t just be about Harper. Harris will work to make sure every prospect gets better, as long as they are willing to listen and learn, and do what it takes to make improvements.
“There were plenty of people in Kansas City that made progress from year to year and from level to level,” Harris said. “For me, that was what it was all about. Am I going to be able to help these kids move up a level, prepare them to play at the next level? For me, you are only as good as your kids are. If they come with an open mind and a willingness to work then they have a chance to get better.”