By Paul Delos Santos
Major League Baseball is about to kick off its spring training and one compelling question entering Washington National’s camp will be is Bryce Harper going to make his big league debut in 2012?
The answer is a resounding…maybe.
Expecting Harper to be on the Nationals’ 25-man roster come Opening Day is beyond ludicrous. Harper has yet to play an inning of Triple A ball, and over the course of 37 games in Double-A ball with the Harrisburg Senators, he hit .256 with three home runs and 12 RBI.
His Single-A numbers project that Harper is better than most players at the one-A level. He played 72 games, compiling a .318 average with 14 home runs and 46 RBI. His more impressive number came in the form of his OPS (Slugging plus On-Base percentage), where he had a .977 in Single A.
The major thing preventing Harper’s ascension is a lack of plate appearances. Harper has only made 452 plate appearances and that’s not even against Big League-caliber pitching that he will see if he was to make the Nats’ roster.
Development wise, it would be a terrible thing for the Nationals to bring him up now where he’ll face the likes of Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw and the entire Phillies rotation.
That said, the Nationals shouldn’t hurry Harper’s development. They’ve spent far too much money for them to throw him into the fire where only bad things can happen.
Harper needs to establish that he can hang with Big League pitching, and the best way to do that is see how he does in Triple A ball before bringing him up.
There’s no hurry if you’re the Nationals since Harper, at 19, is far from the transcendent player that will carry the Nationals out of the National League East cellar. So why bring him now when the kid’s best years are still in front of him?
If fans want to see Bryce Harper in April, Syracuse might be the place for them.