Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why Bryce Harper was born to win the Homerun Derby

As someone who has covered the Washington Nationals from the moment they moved to D.C. in 2005 I can tell you watching and talking to Bryce Harper is a treat. He is a bright respectful young man who loves the bright lights of being in the Major Leagues.

One of the best things about covering Harper is watching him take batting practice. Fans, teammates and players from the opposing  team all watch. After a few practice hacks he begins to put on a show as each ball he hits seems to travel farther than the next. To Harper everyday is Homerun Derby day for him, he was born to play this game and it did not start at Nationals Park.

At the age of 15, a freshman at Las Vegas High School his homeruns were so amazing that they got him noticed. In the June 8, 2009 edition of Sports Illustrated Tom Verducci wrote this about Harper:

The lefthanded Harper had hit the ball over the rightfield fence, two trees, another fence, a sidewalk, five lanes of traffic on elevated South Hollywood Boulevard and yet another sidewalk, until it finally landed in the brown, undeveloped desert. It might as well have been a flying saucer, judging by the grin on Las Vegas High School baseball coach Sam Thomas's face. Five-seventeen," it sounds as if Thomas is saying. Five hundred seventeen feet? "Five-seventy," Thomas clarifies.   

That edition of SI had Harper on the cover with the headline:”Baseball's Lebron.”

The legend of Bryce Harper grew once the Verducci article was out. Now each homerun was on You Tube or Tweeted and Harper was a viral sensation.

In just three years Harper went from a 15 year old high school freshman, to getting his GED, and entering junior college at age 17 and was signed as the first overall draft choice of the Washington Nationals at the age 18.

Then on April 27th of 2012 at the age of 19 he was called up to the Nationals and made his debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He went to make the All Star Team and was a key reason why Washington’s was able to capture the National League East crown. He won the NL Rookie of the Year and now in 2013 he was elected to his second All Star team where he will be playing left field. A position he has played since he was 18 all of two years for those not keeping track.

The 20 year old Harper has become a true team leader and one of baseball's brightest young stars.

He is not the cocky kid that some think, he is a bright young man who has a number of charity projects in the area and he is working on starting his own foundation. He has the respect of his teammates with. Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman as the key mentors. That said Harper pretty much picks the brain of everyone on the team.

Come Monday night at Citi Park in New York, Harper will be there and the bright lights won’t bother him at all. This is what he was born to do, play baseball and to entertain the fans, two things I can say from personal experience he does with ease.

So with no disrespect meant to David Wright (New York Mets), Robinson Cano (New York Yankees), Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado Rockies), Michael Cuddyer (Colorado Rockies) Chris Davis (Baltimore Orioles), and defending Derby champion Prince Fielder (Detroit Tigers).

The fans will be watching the 20 year old Harper steal the show.

The Homerun Derby will air Monday night 8 p.m. ET from Citi Field in New York.   


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