Rizzo says Harper’s the guy

What’s been assumed for a long time - and hinted at by the team repeatedly - is now almost official: The Nationals will likely draft College of Southern Nevada catcher Bryce Harper No. 1 overall in the First-Year Player Draft tomorrow night.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told MASN sideline reporter Debbi Taylor that the team will take the 17-year-old Harper No. 1, barring any drastic changes. Harper, who’s been on the cover of Sports Illustrated and ESPN: The Magazine, left high school a year early to get his GED and declare for the draft in 2010 instead of 2011. He’s been called “baseball’s LeBron James,” and could pair with Stephen Strasburg to give the Nationals one of the most dynamic cores in baseball.

It’s been whispered for months that the Nationals were planning to take Harper; a team source said as early as April that the decision was almost as cut-and-dried as last year’s decision to take Strasburg.

Harper could command a signing bonus in the neighborhood of $10 million. Scouting director Kris Kline said yesterday that Harper could stay behind the plate, or could also wind up as an outfielder.

The first round of the draft starts tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m.