When Washington Nationals minor league player Bryce Harper heard the Angels had called up Mike Trout last week, you couldn’t blame him if his first thought had been, “Hey, what about me?”
Harper, after all, is Baseball America’s top minor league prospect, not Trout. And Harper is batting a more-than-respectable .320, with more home runs and nearly twice as many runs batted in as Trout.
But if Harper felt passed over, he was over it by Sunday morning.
“I didn’t even think about that,” he said before the All-Star Futures game, where he played left field in a 6-4 win by the U.S. over the World team at Chase Field. “I was just very excited for Mike Trout. I’m just really happy for him.”
Statements like that just may hasten Harper’s promotion to the major leagues. Because while the Nationals have never doubted Harper’s prodigious talent and potential, there have been questions about his maturity.
Last month, the 18-year-old, playing for Class-A Hagerstown, lingered in the batter’s box after hitting a long home run, then taunted the victimized pitcher by blowing him a kiss. And in his last game as an amateur, in the 2010 Junior College World Series, he spiked an opponent and twice showed up an umpire, earning an ejection.
“He’s got supreme skills and talent. But there’s a lot to the developmental curve of a player other than how far he can hit the ball, how fast he can run and how hard he can throw,” said Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo, who made Harper the top overall pick in the 2010 draft. “What players have to learn, especially at a young age, is really the every-dayness of the professional game.
“This is every day, six months, seven days a week. And it goes from a game to a lifestyle.”
Harper, who struck out twice in four hitless at-bats Sunday, admitted fatigue has been an issue at times.
“Physically no. Mentally yeah,” said Harper, who made an impressive 330-foot throw from the left-field corner. “You wake up in the morning and there’s some times where you don’t want to go and play. But you’ve got to kick yourself into going out there.”
As for when he’ll be joining Trout in the big leagues, Harper feigned indifference.
“I have no clue,” said Harper, who was promoted to double A this month. “I’m just going to let them make their decisions.
“As long as I’m in the lineup, I’m just happy to be where I am.”
New Dodgers left fielder?
The Dodgers were well represented in Sunday’s game by double-A right fielder Alfredo Silverio, who belted a long two-run home run for the World team.
Silverio, a 24-year-old Dominican, is hitting .314 and slugging .566 with 10 homers and 57 runs batted in at Chattanooga.
“This is the first time I’ve had the ability, the opportunity to play in a game like this,” he said before Sunday’s exhibition. “I’ve had a good first half. I feel comfortable. But I’m trying to get better every day.”