May 13, 2011, 1:54 AM EDT
We’ve already discussed how Bryce Harper is making a mockery of the Sally League.
The Washington Nationals phenom has a 15-game hitting streak at the moment and is tearing the cover off the ball with a .396/.472/.712 line. It’s impressive for anyone, let alone an 18-year-old playing full-season A-ball for the first time.
But Mark Zuckerman at CSNWashington has a theory on why Harper took off after a mediocre start to his professional career: He’s been prescribed contact lenses to sharpen his vision, and is doing eye exercises to “strengthen his eye muscles and allow him to process what he sees much quicker than before.”
Since meeting with Smithson for the first time late last month, Harper has gone on a tear at low-Class A Hagerstown. After a 4-for-5 performance Wednesday night that included his first career grand slam, he’s now riding a 15-game hitting streak, having posted a .492 average, five homers and 16 RBIs during that stretch.
In the span of three weeks, Harper has turned a pedestrian start to his pro career into a full-fledged phenomenon.
I wouldn’t give too much credit to this for Harper’s gaudy numbers, and Zuckerman even writes that “no one ever doubted last summer’s No. 1 draft pick would dominate this low level of the minors. His skills and motivation were off the charts, and he’d never not dominated any league in which he played.”
On the other hand, I suppose it couldn’t hurt. Edgar Martinez, a career .312 hitter, did eye exercises every day to combat a disorder that affected his ability to focus.
Whatever the reason for Harper’s success, he doesn’t seem destined to remain in A-ball much longer, no matter how much the Nationals want to take it slow.
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