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Nationals GM rules out calling up Bryce Harper this season

May 18, 2011, 3:50 PM EST

Bryce Harper AP

During a radio interview today Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo made it very clear that 18-year-old stud prospect Bryce Harper won’t be playing in the majors this season.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview, via Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington:

It’s not gonna happen, because he’s not ready for that to happen. He’s got to learn the nuances of the game of baseball. We certainly don’t want to push him to a level where he’s overmatched and struggles even for a short period of time. We’re just not going to put him in a place where he has a chance to fail until we feel he’s 100 percent ready for that level.

When he is, we will certainly bring him up because, you know, we want to win as bad as anybody else. There’s nobody that wants to win worse than I do. Believe me, if I felt he was ready to hit in the big leagues right now and perform in the big leagues right now, he would be up in the big leagues. If he gave us the best chance to win, he’d be up there and trying to help us win.

That’s not quite true, of course, because Stephen Strasburg clearly gave the Nationals “the best chance to win” immediately after he joined the organization and they waited to call him up until sufficiently delaying his service time. None of which is to say that Rizzo is anything but correct about keeping Harper in the minors.

He’s destroying Single-A as an 18-year-old, which speaks to his amazing long-term upside, but it doesn’t mean he’d also destroy Triple-A pitching as an 18-year-old, let alone big-league pitching. And the Nationals aren’t going anywhere this season anyway, so Harper can develop at a reasonable but rapid pace and likely reach Washington at some point in 2012–when he’ll still be all of 19 years old–all while keeping his pre-free agency clock from ticking.

  1. Old Gator - May 18, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    “We’re just not going to put him in a place where he has a chance to fail until we feel he’s 100 percent ready for that level.”

    Wow. That’s almost Yogi logic there.

    • skerney - May 18, 2011 at 4:02 PM

      You stole my comment, Gator.

      • Old Gator - May 18, 2011 at 10:51 PM

        Nonsense. I found it floating in the ether. International salvage law applies.

  2. dodger88 - May 18, 2011 at 4:45 PM

    Strasburg comparison is not fair as teams need to limits innings/pitches to preserve the health of pitchers; there is not the same need to limit at bats, in fact one could argue the more at bats the better. That being said, it behooves a team to wait a month or two if they are not contenders at the time.

    • senatorsguy - May 18, 2011 at 5:02 PM

      “Strasburg comparison is not fair as teams need to limits innings/pitches to preserve the health of pitchers”

      How’d that work out for you?

      • dodger88 - May 18, 2011 at 5:13 PM

        No guarantees that protection of pitchers works but it does improve the odds, Strasburg aside.

      • jwbiii - May 18, 2011 at 11:41 PM

        It got rid of Rob Dibble, right?

  3. natstowngreg - May 18, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    ETA for Harper — on or after June 1, 2012. IF he mashes pitching at higher levels, IF he shows sufficient improvement in defense and baserunning.

  4. schlom - May 18, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    He’s already on the 40 man roster so won’t he be called up to the major league team after the rosters expand and the minor league season is over? He might not get any at-bats but I don’t think it would harm him to sit on the bench for the last few weeks of the season.

  5. ThatGuy - May 18, 2011 at 8:59 PM

    Just curious is he in High A or Low A? High Schoolers tend to start in Low A, but he isn’t the typical high schooler.

    • jwbiii - May 18, 2011 at 11:43 PM

      Hagerstown is in the Sally League, which is regular A ball.

    • natstowngreg - May 19, 2011 at 12:42 PM

      Low A. There was speculation in spring training that he would start at Potomac (Carolina League, High A), but they resisted the urge.

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