(Video above: The first hit of Bryce Harper's college career, last night in his College of Southern Nevada debut)
"I can't say anything about Bryce Harper."
(Jeff Zona, via Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1/30/2010)
That's okay, Jeff. Even Bryce Harper can't say anything about Bryce Harper these days.
With the Nationals' Bob Boone, Roy Clark, Kris Kline, and Jeff Zona in attendance and most likely heeding a gag order from GM Mike Rizzo, Bryce Harper made his College of Southern Nevada debut last night, going 1-3 with 2 RBI, a sac fly, a walk, a stolen base, and a throwing error -- reports Todd Dewey of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Dewey described a circus-like atmosphere at last night's game (via LVRJ):
Coyotes coach Tim Chambers said 40 scouts attended Thursday's practice at CSN and estimated about 100 were at the game...
...witnessed by the largest crowd in the program's 11-year history, about 1,300.
In a Las Vegas Sun article on Friday, Ray Brewer details the lockdown on access to Harper that's been put in place for this season as the 17 year old prodigy prepares for the June draft. It's called a gag order, people! (via Las Vegas Sun, 1/29/2010):
No autographs, handshakes, interviews or conversations. Just baseball.
"It became relentless after the Sports Illustrated article," CSN coach Tim Chambers said. "He would have to stay after games for an hour and a half signing autographs."
Meanwhile, the Nationals remain decidedly noncommittal when speaking about Bryce Harper at all. During the now infamous interview with Jim Bowden on XM/Sirus's Power Alley on Wednesday, Mike Rizzo stuck to the script when Jimbo asked about Harper (via DC Sports Bog):
"Bryce certainly would be one of the guys we'd talk about. We had ourselves a little bit of a mock draft here a couple weeks ago, we brought in all our amateur guys to discuss that. We set up a top 100. There's several [players] I think that'll be involved in the first pick. I'm gonna try to see somewhere around 30 or 40 players this year in the amateur draft. We've got a really good set of amateur scouts that I trust, and I think it's gonna be a strong draft year, and I think we're gonna have a strong draft."
Expect more of the same from both sides as another battle with Scott Boras looms this summer.