(Bryce Harper will play in the Arizona Fall League. Getty Images photo.)
And so, yes, the Nationals will be sending Bryce Harper to the Arizona Fall League after all. Harper will be a card-carrying member of the Scottsdale Scorpions' "taxi squad"; meaning he's only eligible to play on Wednesdays and Saturdays. MASN's Byron Kerr got reaction from a "stoked" Bryce Harper, who turns 18 on Saturday:
"I am stoked. I am so excited. It has been a goal of mine to be able play in the Arizona Fall league."
(Bryce Harper, via MASNSports.com, 10/13/2010)
And here's Mike Rizzo on the decision, via Nationals Journal:
"I recognize that this kid is going into a situation that is pretty unprecedented. He's going to be an 18-year-old player in an extremely accelerated league. But we feel the trade-off of getting this kid to work out for two months in that environment was well worth the opportunity of him struggling a little bit in such an advanced league. With this kid's ability level and this kid's attitude, it's certainly not going to retard his progress. We think the two months he'll be playing under these conditions is going to accelerate his developmental curve extremely."
(Mike Rizzo, via Nationals Journal, 10/13/2010)
Here's more Rizzo, via Nationals.com:
"He's 17 years old and he doesn't even turn 18 until Saturday. He is very excited. What I had to decide on was: 'Is he going to be over his head in the AFL?' It's a very advanced league, but I think he is going to handle it. It's going to be very valuable to him."
(Mike Rizzo, via Nationals.com, 10/13/2010)
Hello, Bryce Harper Fast Track.
So without further ado, let's get ahead of ourselves and break out the Nationals 2011 schedule and try to figure out the date of the Bryce Harper MLB debut at Nationals Park, shall we?
Yes, we shall. We're taking Friday night, June 17th, just in time for Game 1 of the Nationals' home leg of the 2011 Battle of the Beltways against the O's (plenty of good seats still available). Take that, Peter Angelos!