Where will Bryce Harper be on opening day?

There are thoughts and arguments on both sides of the fence on where a particular 19-year-old No. 1 Nationals prospect should play in 2012.

Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr remembers how disappointed Bryce Harper was last season when he was told after an impressive spring that he was not going to go north with the big club.

So after starting slow and then tearing up Single-A, Double-A and the Arizona Fall League, why not give Harper a shot with the Nationals out of spring training?

Knorr said he would not be surprised if Harper made the team. He points to how manager Davey Johnson did this before with a young Dwight Gooden, who at 19 won 17 games.

But Knorr also said if this is the time Harper is going to learn, why not do it at the minor league level?

“He is going to make mistakes, and that is fine,” Knorr said. “Everybody makes mistakes in a game.Some of the mistakes he makes will be (because) he is young. With us, Jayson (Werth) will be out there telling him where to throw the ball, but every time he comes up and throws the ball behind a runner and throws it in the dugout, (there will be questions).

“Hopefully, we can get that all out of his system if this is going to happen, because I don’t want to him to have to go the first half of the season answering questions after the game about stuff like that.”

That is a key from the National’ perspective. Harper could survive right now at the major league level because he has that much talent. But there is no need to develop a player, even as good as Harper, at the top level. Let him be completely ready, the whole package, before you send him up for good.

You do not want to get to the point where you get Harper to the majors and try to wait and wait through a slump because he has gotten through slow starts before.

Let his struggles here or there be on the minor league level. Let him have a full season this time at Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse and then have him ready for opening day - in 2013.

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