Bryce Harper was introduced today as a member of the Washington Nationals (Photo by Ian Koski/Nats Daily News)
The Washington Nationals introduced their newest prodigy, 17-year old outfielder Bryce Harper, to the media and Nationals fans with a press conference before tonight's game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The remarkably composed and well-spoken Harper, who should be getting ready for his senior year of high school instead of embarking on a professional baseball career, was asked what his first purchase would be with his signing bonus.  He replied, "Fix the dent in my truck."

The logical follow up was, why not buy a new one?

He replied, "Why?  It only has 120,000 miles on it."

Harper was handed his No. 34 jersey from face of the franchise Ryan Zimmerman, who joked that he would have to get something written into his next contract about the extra duties.  Harper explained that the No. 34 was significant because his favorite player was Mickey Mantle, and three plus four equals seven, the number Mantle wore in his prodigous career as a Yankee.

Ryan Zimmerman welcomes Harper to the team. (Photo by Ian Koski/Nats Daily News)
Much like his hero, Harper will be asked to change positions at a young age.  Mantle moved to center after playing shortstop in the minors, but Harper won't take that long to make the switch to right field from catcher, as he'll be sent out to the Nats minor league facility in Viera, FL to begin his training for the Florida Instructional League.

Harper took batting practice earlier in the day at Nationals Park for the first time, an experience he described as "It felt like home."

He hit several tape measure blasts, including pulling one into the third deck in right field, and several to left field.  "Oppo boppo," Harper said, more than once. 

"It's every kid's dream to take BP at a major league park," Harper said of the experience.  "But I'm not where I want to be...  I have a lot of things to prove."


Harper interviewed by MASN's Bob Carpenter. (Photo by Ian Koski/Nats Daily News)
General Manager Mike Rizzo described Harper as a middle of the order bat, a cornerstone of the organization on and off the field.  He listed Harper with Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann as the core of young talent that would carry the Nats out of their perennial predicament of picking at the top of the amateur draft.

Harper has spent the bulk of the summer at home in Las Vegas, hitting in the cage with his father and working out with his high school football team, running passing routes and lifting weights.  He took every opportunity to praise and thank his high school and college coaches, and said on several occasions he's anxious to start his path to the big leagues.

"I can't wait to show 'em what I can do."

1 comments

  1. poker affiliate // October 21, 2010 at 3:43 PM  

    The hype on Bryce Harper is just starting. He is finally playing pro ball, and it seems like he has all the skills that made Josh Hamilton so highly regarded out of high school.