HAGERSTOWN, Md. - Suns right fielder Bryce Harper extended his hitting streak to 14 games Tuesday with two hits in his final two at-bats of Single-A Hagerstown’s 7-3 win over Delmarva.
Suns manager Brian Daubach has noticed a trend on how opponents are trying to go after the No. 1 prospect.
“It seems like he is facing a lot of lefties,” Daubach said. “A lot of other teams (are) bringing the lefties when he is coming up. Probably to see what their guy can do, but also a challenge for Bryce. He is seeing a lot of different lefties and a lot of different breaking balls.”
Most of Harper’s home runs (six of the seven) have come against right-handed pitchers. But he is getting hits off of left-handers as well. Harper is batting .395 off southpaws (43 at-bats) and .365 off right-handers (63 at-bats). His OPS is above 1.000 from both sides of the plate. Harper’s slugging percentage is impressive from either side as well; .762 versus righties and .558 against lefties.
“He is making the adjustment,” Daubach said. “The last at-bat was a perfect example. He fought off a lot of balls and hung around. He finally got a pitch he can handle and laced it to right field.”
Daubach said he knew adjusting to pro ball wasn’t going to be easy for Harper, and that this is why he needs a lot of games to get used to other teams trying to make it difficult on him. Delmarva Shorebirds manager and former Oriole Ryan Minor showed Harper nothing but southpaws on Tuesday.
Daubach also believes Harper will get his chance to get used to these particular pitchers, and not just in five at-bats.
“It is a good experience for him,” Daubach said. “These teams in our division, we do see them quite a bit. At least he will see these guys again another time this year. It is part of the learning process.”
When Harper ripped an RBI single to left field for his first hit of the day, he raced to second, trying to turn it into a double, and was thrown out on a nice relay from the outfield.
Daubach said the level of talent that Harper is facing in the South Atlantic League is a far cry from what he experienced at the College of Southern Nevada. But he believes that Harper pushing on every play really helps on defense.
“He is going to be aggressive,” Daubach said. “We work with him every day on base running and fielding. You saw today, he made two great plays. First inning catch saved the inning and may have saved the game.
“That ball gets over his head, it’s 2-0 or 3-0. Instead, we got out of there with just a zero up there. He is playing well. He is getting better jumps in the outfield and taking better routes. He is definitely improving. Every day, he is fun to watch.”
Harper declined to speak to reporters after Tuesday’s game.