On Monday night, the Nationals officially did what they've been expected to do for the better part of a year, making 17-year-old Bryce Harper the No. 1 pick in the First-Year Player Draft.
Harper, who obtained a GED and enrolled at the College of Southern Nevada so he could be eligible for the draft a year early, hit .442 with 29 homers and 89 RBI in the wood-bat junior college league. He is advised by agent Scott Boras, who also represents Stephen Strasburg, and could command a signing bonus of more than $10 million.
There have been concerns raised about Harper's character after several incidents where he argued with umpires or taunted opposing fans and players. But Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said last month he has "no issue, whatsoever" with Harper's character. And team scouting director Kris Kline said Harper will quickly learn to put aside some of the things he did in high school and at Southern Nevada.
"He'll grow," Kline said. "And you know what will happen when he gets into pro ball? Some of the things he'll do, someone's going to grab him by the jersey or take him into the locker room, and say, 'You can't do that anymore.' He won't do it anymore. Once he gets up to the big-league level, he'll handle himself like these guys handle themselves, be professional about the things he does. He already does that in a lot of things."
The biggest surprise Monday night was not that the Nationals took Harper, but that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced Harper as an outfielder. There have been plenty of assumptions the Nationals might move Harper, but the Selig announcement, plus the Nationals' release that lists Harper as an outfielder, seems to make the move official.
Harper has played a number of positions besides catcher through high school, and Kline said the 6-foot-3 Harper might project better as a right fielder than a catcher.
I'll have more later from Rizzo, Kline and assistant GM Roy Clark.