February 19, 2020

Baseball America ranks Nationals’ minor league prospects

For serious Washington Nationals fans, the names on Baseball America’s list of top ten prospects in the organization should not be unfamiliar.  Several have been on the list before, several more were part of 2011’s draft class, two of them made their MLB debuts last season and one of them happens for be completely tearing up the Arizona Fall League currently.  You may have heard of him, a kid named Harper.

Bryce Harper does indeed fill the No. 1 spot on BA’s top Nats prospects.  The left-handed outfielder is hitting .311/.381/.622 with six homers and 24 RBIs in 74 at bats for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the AFL.  His AFL teammate, catcher Derek Norris, comes in at No. 9 on the list, which is based on projections of a player’s long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel.  Norris is hitting .328/.427/.459 with two home runs as 11 RBIs in 61 at bats, following a somewhat disappointing year where he hit just .210 at Double-A Harrisburg.

Here’s the complete list:

1. Bryce Harper, OF

2. Anthony Rendon, 3B

3. Brad Peacock, RHP

4. A.J. Cole, RHP

5. Brian Goodwin, OF

6. Alex Meyer, RHP

7. Matt Purke, LHP

8. Sammy Solis, LHP

9. Derek Norris, C

10.  Steve Lombardozzi, UTL

It’s interesting that of the Nats top ten prospects, seven have come out of the last two draft classes.  The Nats have recently graduated several players out of the “prospect” category, such as SP Stephen Strasburg, 2B Danny Espinosa and C Wilson Ramos, so the Nats best players in the system are still at the lowest levels.   But draft experts everywhere think Harper, Rendon and perhaps Purke will be quick movers once they get their professional careers started.  The narrative in the report speaks glowingly of the talent the Nats are accumulating in their minor league system though, and BA named the Nats as their “top rated draft” of 2011 with the additions of Rendon, Meyer, Goodwin and Purke.

Baseball America’s article also list the Nats minor leaguers with the “Best Tools” and a projected 2015 lineup. 

Bryce Harper and Derek Norris Failed to Shine in AFL Rising Stars Game

RESULTS:
The rising stars game was expected to be a pitcher’s duel with the two starting pitchers as the top two picks in the 2011 draft. Unfortunately, No. 1 pick Gerrit Cole only made it through two-thirds of an inning and the AFL East (team with Harper and Norris) fell to the AFL West 11-2.

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The Arizona Fall League (“AFL”) was created by Major League Baseball in 1992 to act as an offseason “graduate school” for top prospects and teams play a thirty-eight game season. Nationals Bryce Harper is the first player to play in the AFL that is younger than the league itself.

There are six teams that comprise the AFL – Surprise Saguaros, Peoria Javelinas, Phoenix Desert Dogs, Salt River Rafters, Mesa Solar Sox and Scottsdale Scorpions.

The best prospects from the AFL East and AFL West played in the sixth annual Rising Stars Game on Saturday, Nov. 5 in Surprise, Arizona. Outfielder Bryce Harper and Catcher Derek Norris, two of the Washington Nationals top prospects, were on the AFL East Rising Stars roster facing Seattle Mariners 2011 number one draft pick (second overall) LHP Danny Hultzen of the AFL West.

The rising stars players wore the uniform of their home team and the hat/batting helmet of AFL team. East Rising Stars lineup: Grossman 9, Trout 8, Lake 6, Arenado 5, Harper DH, Norris 2, Paulsen 3, Dozier 4, T. Wheeler, 7, Cole 1. West Rising Stars lineup: Mattison 8, Franklin 6, Myers 9, Olt 5, Choice DH, Terdoslavich 3, Decker 7, Bethancourt 2, Colon 4 Hultzen 1.

Bryce Harper during first plate appearance in AFL Rising Stars Game (iPhone Screen Shot Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Bryce Harper has been red-hot recently and had a thirteen game hitting streak going into the Rising Stars game. Harper has played in eighteen games for the Scottsdale Scorpions with a .314 AVG, 6 HR, 24 RBIs and 3 SB.

Dale Valle of MLB Network talked about Bryce Harper prior to the game. “There is a certain sound when Bryce Harper hits the baseball. Tremendous power to all fields, tremendous athlete.” Valle went on to say that he had spoken to Nationals GM Mike Rizzo earlier in the day and asked about where Harper would play in the field. Rizzo said, “It might be in right field, moving Jayson Werth over to center field.”

MLB Network announcers and graphics discussed and analyzed Harper throughout the game wondering if he was the most exciting player, gushed about his power, compared him to Mike Trout and on and on. However, overall agreed that the hype was warranted.

Unfortunately, neither Harper or Norris had a remarkable game.

Playing as a designated hitter in the rising stars game, Bryce Harper went 0 for 2 with a walk, an RBI and two strikeouts in four at-bats. Harper walked in his first at-bat, being the only player to get on base against the dominant Danny Hultzen. In his second plate appearance, Bryce hit a sacrifice fly off of Wes Etheridge to deep left field and Junior Lake scored the last run of the night for the AFL East. Harper struck out swinging in his third and fourth chances (against Jeremy Jeffress and Brad Boxberger).

Derek Norris started at catcher and went 0 for 2 with a walk and a strikeout in three at-bats. Norris just missed a two-run homer in his first at-bat after Harper walked in the second inning. Kevin Mattison caught the ball with his back against the center field wall. Norris walked in the fourth inning and struck out swinging in the sixth. Derek made a great defensive play at the play in the bottom of the second inning which saved a run. Jason Castro replaced Norris at catcher in the bottom of the sixth.

There are no AFL games scheduled for today, Sunday, Nov. 6. Scottsdale Scorpions have ten more games to play with the next game at Salt River on Monday.

Derek Norris during AFL Rising Stars Game (iPhone Screen Shot Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Arizona Fall League Update: Bryce Harper on fire; Joins Norris for Rising Stars Game

For Bryce Harper, what a difference a couple of weeks makes.

The 19-year old Washington Nationals phenom got off to a slow start in the Arizona Fall League this season, struggling out of the gate as he seems to do every time he changes a level.  For the last two weeks, however, he’s has been flat-out raking.  In his last ten games, the outfielder has hit .410/.467/.923 with three doubles, five home runs and 19 RBIs.

Harper on deck at spring training (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Overall, in 16 games and 62 at bats, Harper is hitting .290/.357/.613 with five homers and 20 BRIs.  Oh, and he’s still the youngest player in the league. [Read more…]

Bryce Harper off to slow start in Arizona Fall League

The Arizona Fall League is in its second week already, so there’s a big enough sample size to take a look at how the Nats prospects are faring.  The biggest thing that jumps out in the stats is that Bryce Harper, playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions, is 2-for-23 in six games (.087/.160/.087) with no extra base hits and just one RBI.  He’s walked twice, struck out four times, and is 3-for-4 in stolen base attempts.  Harper hit a combined .297/.392/.501 in 109 games between Single-A Hagerstown and Double-A Harrisburg last season with 17 home runs, 58 RBIs and 26 steals in 33 attempts.

Harper on deck at spring training (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Harper’s been a notorious slow starter at every level he’s attempted, but this is his second go-round in the AFL.  His numbers will bear watching over the next month (the AFL runs through Nov. 17) to see how he rebounds from this mostly miserable start.  Something worth keeping in mind: he’s still the youngest player on his AFL team, by more than a year behind Angels outfielder Mike Trout. [Read more…]

Nationals send cream of minor league crop to Arizona Fall League

The Washington Nationals sent seven players to the Arizona Fall League this year, including 2010 first overall pick Bryce Harper, to compete for the Scottsdale Scorpions.  Joining Harper are LHP Matt Purke (’10 third round)LHP Sammy Solis (’10 second round), C Derek Norris (’07 fourth round), RHP Pat Lehman (’09 14th round), RHP Rafael Martin (’10 international free agent) and INF Zach Walters (’10 ninth round, acquired from Arizona for Jason Marquis).

Bryce Harper in his Double-A Debut in Harrisburg (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Obviously, most of the attention in on Harper, the soon-to-be 19-year old from Las Vegas.  He made quite a splash this season, his first in professional baseball, tearing up the Single-A South Atlantic League for the Hagerstown Suns, before a post-All-Star game promotion to Double-A Harrisburg, where he was heating up before pulling a hamstring trying to go from first-to-third on Aug. 19.  In 37 games for the Senators, Harper hit .256/.329/.395 with seven doubles, a triple and three HRs.  He pounded Class-A pitching to the tune of .318/.423/.554 with 17 doubles and 14 HRs in 72 games.  Harper will be the youngest player in the AFL for the second straight season. [Read more…]

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