(Bryce Harper to meet Uncle Slam in 2011? Uncle Slam Photo by maskirovka77, on Flickr)
[See also: Bryce Harper swinging the biggest bat on earth?]
Last February, the Potomac Nationals got a little bit ahead of themselves by marketing Stephen Strasburg before the start of the 2010 season, in hopes of cashing in on the hype surrounding the phenom. We all know how that turned out: Strasburg never made it to Woodbridge (although stay tuned: he could potentially make a few rehab starts there this summer). Now, according to a story by Robert Daski on InsideNOVA.com, the P-Nats are at it again, and already have their promotions ready to go in the event that Bryce Harper arrives in Woodbridge this summer:
Potomac general manger Josh Olerud said promotions are lined up to mark Harper’s arrival should he be sent to Potomac.
Olerud said between five or 10 phone calls and 15 or 20 emails have come in from fans inquiring about Harper playing for Potomac.
Team officials also might set up an autograph session between Harper and the fans at a location outside Pfitzner Stadium.
“We want to give our fans a chance to see him and not make his day-to-day work anything out of the ordinary,” Olerud said. “He’ll be signing autographs and people are going to want to take pictures with him. But we want to make sure it’s in a manner he’s comfortable with, that he’s not signing autographs from nine o’clock at night until one in the morning."
(via InsideNOVA.com, 2/1/2011)
Would they have Harper sign autographs until one in the morning if there weren't child labor laws? Anyway, good for the P-Nats for planning ahead.
All signs still point to Harper starting in Hagerstown, although Nationals director of Player development Doug Harris says things could still change:
“He’ll likely start in [Low-A] Hagerstown. Nothing is in stone at this point. That’s a likely starting point.”
(Doug Harris, via InsideNova.com, 2/1/2011)
And here's Nationals Assistant GM Bryan Minniti on the possibility of Harper appearing in Potomac during the P-Nats Hot Stove banquet Sunday night in Springfield VA:
"He is obviously a supremely talented kid. It is really hard to believe what he has already done. He went right to the Arizona Fall League and performed well with guys that are right on the cusp of the big leagues. My anticipation is we will start him lower than Potomac, if that is Hagerstown or the Gulf Coast League. He is a pretty special talent. Time will tell and he will tell us when he is ready to move. Guys like Stephen Strasburg and Harper can speed that whole process up."
(via Bryan Minniti, via Byron Kerr/MASNSports.com, 1/31/2011)
So, go ahead P-Nats, put in that order for the Bryce Harper bobblehead dolls at your own risk...just don't go announcing any $15 million ticket plans like last year.