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Nationals’ GM says Bryce Harper could make the team out of spring training

Feb 4, 2012, 8:57 AM EDT

Bryce Harper AP

It’s no secret that Nationals manager Davey Johnson would like top prospect Bryce Harper to make the team out of spring training as the starting right fielder. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has played things pretty coy until now, but his comments to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com yesterday indicate that he hasn’t dismissed the possibility.

“We’re take a look at him and see where he’s at developmentally. If we feel he’s ready to play at the major-league level, we’re not going to restrict him,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said by phone. “We’ll be cautious yet open-minded. If he gives us the best chance to win, we’ll keep an open mind and see where it takes us.”

This idea continues to gain momentum, but unless Harper absolutely tears the cover off the ball during spring training and gives the Nationals no other choice, I still see it as unlikely. Harper batted .256/.329/.395 with a .724 OPS over 147 plate appearances after being promoted to Double-A Harrisburg last season and while that’s pretty darn impressive for an 18-year-old, some more at-bats in the minor leagues might not be the worst thing for his development.

Of course, the most significant reason to keep Harper in the minors to begin the year would be to delay his service time so that he doesn’t qualify as a Super Two player down the road. With that in mind, chances are we’ll see him when some of the game’s other top prospects make their way to the majors in late-May or June.

  1. dondada10 - Feb 4, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    Werth in centerfield when Harper comes up?

    • dcfan4life - Feb 4, 2012 at 9:47 AM

      Werths already been told hes the opening day center fielder. Hence why they want to trade Lannan for an outfielder. They have Werth in center and Morse in left with right field up for grabs. Thats a weak defensive outfield. Hopefully it will improve.

  2. bleed4philly - Feb 4, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    White Griffey

  3. burgundyngold21 - Feb 4, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    I think they will bring him up in late May or July. We will see:

    LF-Morse

  4. brosterik - Feb 4, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    Trade LaRoche, Lannan, and a pitching prospect and get a stud center fielder who can lead off. Move Werth to left and Morse to 1st.

    • paperlions - Feb 4, 2012 at 12:18 PM

      No one is trading a stud CF (a very rare commodity) for a poo poo platter.

  5. dw3dw - Feb 4, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    Nationals open on the road this year against the Cubs–it would be nice if Harper’s MLB debut came at home.

    • jyoung1891 - Feb 4, 2012 at 12:19 PM

      That actually makes sense. But they probably will have to overpay to make it happen.

  6. knicks4life - Feb 4, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Would u trade lannan and Harper for jacoby else bury

  7. yettyskills - Feb 4, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Kid was second on the team in OPS last spring, if he does it again he’s starting in RF.

  8. plmathfoto - Feb 4, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    Davey Johnson has a history of playing kids before many think they should (see Gooden, Dwight) & putting his best hititng team on the field (see Mitchell, Kevin or Johnson, Howard at ss, etc). Can def see him playing the kid and moving Werth to cf based on this.

  9. btwicey - Feb 4, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    Boston wouldn’t trade els for harper and Washington wouldn’t trade harper for 99.4% of MLB players.

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