MELBOURNE, Fla. - The Nationals are making their next round of roster cuts today, but for at least a little while longer, Bryce Harper will stay in major league camp.
A team source said this morning that Harper won't be in this round of cuts, giving the 18-year-old more time to see major league pitching after a week in which he's started to look more comfortable with it.
Harper has five hits in his last seven at-bats, and is now hitting .375 for the spring. He also made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch in right field last night against the Astros, though his throwing error on the game's final play led to Houston's winning run.
But the fact Harper is staying in major league camp means two things: The Nationals are comfortable letting him see major league pitching a little longer, and he'll continue to get enough at-bats to develop.
Harper has 16 at-bats in 11 games. Only Alberto Gonzalez has seen action in as many contests, though Harper hasn't started or seen more than two at-bats in a game. He's also getting some valuable instruction from veteran players - he credited Rick Ankiel with spotting him during his over-the-shoulder catch last night.
It's still a virtual certainty Harper will begin the year at Single-A Hagerstown. But now that the Nationals are able to send out players on their 40-man roster, they've chosen to keep last year's No. 1 pick around at least a little longer. That's an encouraging sign for his development.