When the Nationals brought their first phenom to spring training last year - Stephen Strasburg - they shielded him from the media in large part to get the 21-year-old accustomed to all the attention he’d be facing. Strasburg saw it as unwarranted, and responded coolly to it while he tore through the majors in his first season.
The Nationals will have another phenom coming to spring training this year, and it’s been clear already he won’t be as shy about the attention. If anything, the Nationals might need to cordon Bryce Harper off in case he says too much.
The 18-year-old has never been one to shy away from bold pronouncements, and he made another one on Friday when his No. 34 was retired at the College of Southern Nevada. During the ceremony, Harper said he’s shooting for a September call-up - this season.
“I’m thinking I’ll be out there next year,” Harper told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Hopefully I’ll get a big league call-up in September and then be able to be out there next year and try to make the team out of camp. That’s what I’m shooting for.”
Harper also conceded it’s not likely he’ll be called up in September, which is probably wise. He’s likely to start the year at Single-A Hagerstown, and the odds of him tearing through four levels of minor league ball, at age 18, are minuscule at best.
But the Nationals love his bravado, as long as it’s applied properly. And even if Harper doesn’t have much chance at the majors this year, expect him to do everything he can to make the Nationals consider it.