MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo completed his final installment of his Top 10 prospects at each position and ranks the game’s top outfield prospects.
1. Bryce Harper, Nationals: Harper might play all of the 2012 season at age 19, but it would be a mistake to think that’s a reason he won’t be in Washington this year. All signs point to him getting every chance to make the Opening Day roster, and why not? Harper has already shown an ability to make adjustments. He started out slowly after his double-jump to Double-A last summer, but was just heating up when he got shut down by a minor hamstring injury. No matter, Harper simply went to the Arizona Fall League and raked there. His plus power shows up in games consistently, and he didn’t strike out quite as much as some thought he would. Harper gets on base, is an aggressive baserunner and is improving in the outfield, where his plus arm works very well. He could be ready to take the nation’s capital by storm on Opening Day.
In 100 games between Single-A and Double-A, Harper batted .297/.392/.501 with 17 home runs, 58 RBI, 63 runs scored and 26 stolen bases. A smashing pro debut to say the least.
Bryce Harper is being compared by many to NBA star LeBron James in terms of the impact he is going to have on the game. Like James, Harper was already well known by many savvy baseball fans long before the Washington Nationals made him the number one pick in the country, in fact at the ripe old age of 16, he already had his own cover on Sports Illustrated.
The urban legends surrounding Harper also include that he once hit a 570 foot home run, and another time during an amateur home-run derby at Tropicana Field, he crushed a 502 foot shot that is still the longest home run in the history of the ballpark.
Harper unseated last year’s top ranked outfield prospect Mike Trout who finished second this year. An extremely highly touted prospect himself, Trout has already gotten a cup of coffee in the majors, but still qualifies as a rookie and is the overwhelming favorite to win the Rookie of the Year Award in 2012.
So, let me give you something to ponder. If you had your choice of either of these diamonds in the rough, which one would you choose?