Prospect A-Z Day 8: Bryan Harper

November 23, 2011
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Yesterday, we reviewed Grant Green, the A's prospect and former first rounder converting from shortstop to centerfield. After a great pro debut in 2010, Green's offensive suffered from a pretty substantial decline with AA Midland in 2011. He should be able to handle center and at least be an okay defensive player, and if his power comes back, he could be a quality regular for the A's who are in desperate need of offense from anywhere on the diamond. Today I'll cover the guy everyone's talking about, Nationals minor leaguer... Bryan Harper. Bryan Harper, LHP, Washington Nationals (2011: NCAA South Carolina, R GCL Nationals) Harper has been drafted three times, twice by the Nationals and once by the Cubs, and has also pitched at three different colleges. After not signing with Washington out of high school, he pitched a year at Cal State Northridge before transferring. When Washington drafted Harper again in the 2011 draft, it was from the College World Series champion South Carolina Gamecocks. He played a minor role, but he was still a part of something special. It was that season between CS Northridge and South Carolina that people will remember though. He pitched for a junior college called the College of Southern Nevada. His velocity increased to sit around 88-91 and improved his stock after a season at Northridge that didn't go well at all. Thanks to his dominant pitching, Southern Nevada was able to advance to the Junior College World Series, and scouts were able to spot his younger brother Bryce Harper, a decent prospect in his own right. With his size, competitiveness and improving fastball and mechanics, it's easy to see why teams would be interested. What happened to the other players drafted from his College of Southern Nevada team? Bryce Harper, Washington- Okay, okay. The last two prospects were a gag not funny to anyone besides myself. Harper beat all expectations in his first year, continuing to prove he has transcendental talent. He's now on track to make his major league debut at some point in 2012 despite some struggles at AA in 2011. Donn Roach, Anaheim- Roach was the second CSN pick to go off the board in 2010, and he had a solid season in relief for Anaheim's low-A affiliate. He struck out nearly a batter per inning. He struck out nearly a batter per inning, and he had a very good K:BB ratio of 3.40. Kenneth McDowall, New York Mets- McDowall was taken in the 8th round by the Mets but didn't pitch until 2011. Even then, he only pitched 20 innings combined between two Mets short season affiliates this year. He only allowed 21 baserunners in 20 innings, but when nine of them were walks, it's clear he needs to improve his command. Aaron Kurcz, Chicago Cubs- Statistically, Kurcz appears to be one of the steals of the 2010 draft, but we all know there's more to prospects than stats. He showed a potential three pitch mix with a fastball that can get into mid 90's, a breaking ball and a changeup, but due to his frame, he could end up as a reliever long term. He skipped right over low-A to the Florida State League where he struck out over a batter an inning. If he becomes a reliever permanently, he could join the Cubs at some point in 2012. Chasen Shreve, Atlanta- Atlanta has scouted the Nevada area heavily in recent years, drafting Chasen's older brother Colby, now a Phillies prospect. Chasen had an okay year in low-A, striking out nearly one batter per inning, but he allowed too many baserunners. Opponents batted over .280 against him, and relievers can't succeed allowing that many batters to reach. His strikeout and groundball rates were promising though. Tyler Hanks, Washington- In his milb.com biography, it says that Hanks played on Bryce Harper's team which probably doesn't say much about him. He pitched 24.2 IP this year between three different levels, and he didn't have much success at all in a small sample size in a full season league. He allowed 20 baserunners in just eight innings in low-A, but he was effective in his short season appearances. Jordan Keegan, Chicago White Sox- Keegan has spent consecutive seasons in the Appy League, and unfortunately for him declined in his second season. He's been patient and able to take walks, but his batting average is low and hasn't hit for any power. Joe Robinson, UNLV- Robinson did not sign with the Orioles, instead he transferred to UNLV. He was drafted again in 2011, this time by the Dodgers, and again did not sign. He was very ineffective in 2011 with a dismal K:BB ratio dangerously close to 1.00. He'll try one more time to improve his stock. That's a lot of talent for a junior college team. Although Bryan Harper would be in professional baseball even without the aid of everyone coming to see his brother, it's not uncommon for teams to acquire brothers to improve morale from talented picks. Joe Mauer's brothers Jake and Bill- Joe was the #1 overall pick of the 2011 draft which was controversial at the time because the Twins passed on college ace Mark Prior. Mauer was from Minnesota and was going to have an easier negotiation. He became the All-Star people expected, but his brothers weren't quite as productive. Jake was drafted in the 23rd round and spent nearly five seasons as an infielder in Minnesota's system. After his playing career, he began his career as a Twins managerial prospect. In 2003, Bill Mauer was signed as an undrafted free agent who pitched 64 innings across four seasons in the minors. Gavin Floyd's brother Michael- In 2001, the Phillies decided to go after Gavin Floyd at the top of the draft, knowing he would be difficult to sign. Negotiations came down to the wire, and they got their man. His older brother Michael was drafted in the 22nd round that draft but never advanced above high-A. He showed some power and patience though, but he was always old for his level. Jarrod Saltalamacchia's brother Justin- Saltalamacchia was a highly touted catching prospect when the Braves drafted him in the first round in 2003. It didn't take him long to reach the majors, and by 2007 he reached Atlanta and was then traded. Justin played for UNC Greensboro and was signed as an undrafted free agent. He only played in a handful of games that year before he was out of pro baseball. Tim Beckham's brother Jeremy- Like Mauer, Tim Beckham was the first overall pick in his draft. He wasn't considered a difficult sign, and his selection has been controversial in the Rays' internet community since. 16 rounds later, they drafted his brother Jeremy from Georgia Southern. He spent a year and a half in the lower levels of Tampa Bay's system but was released after not hitting particularly well. That's it for this week. Enjoy Thanksgiving and come back Monday for the continuation of Prospect A-Z. Will it be an A-ball slugger or a slick fielding Cuban import? What kind of name is Gac anyway?

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