Top draft prospect Bryce Harper went 1-3 while playing third base in his college debut last night in the opening round against Arizona Western of the 4th Annual Coyote Border Battle.
While Harper wasn't available to comment, the Las Vegas Review-Journal said that there were about 40 scouts in attendance including the Nationals assistant GM's Bob Boone and Ron Clark, as well as Nats scouting director Kris Kline.
"The 6-foot-3-inch left-handed hitter walked and scored in the first inning, hit an RBI single and stole second base in the second, flied to center in the fourth and struck out swinging in the sixth.
Harper capped his night by hitting a sacrifice fly to left field in the eighth inning during an attempted intentional walk. He reached out and poked the opposite-field drive for his second RBI."
"I thought he did great," he said. "He was patient, which was good. He wasn't jumping at the ball. It was good to get that first hit out of the way."
Harper (and of course the Coyotes) will play again today at noon (Las Vegas time), Harper is expected to catch. Harper had a throwing error at third last night, but it does not appear that is the reason for the position switch.
Having been around a good amount of amateur talent during my playing days, I know a lot of the top guys will play many different positions throughout the year before they get drafted. First, because they can, they're all great athletes with great range. Second, to improve their draft status. If they are more versatile they are a better draft pick. Personally I believe Harper is better off playing a corner outfield position or first base, not because he can't catch, but because his bat is more valuable than the defense he may be able to provide at catcher. Catching shortens careers after-all.
ED Note: Bryce's brother, Bryan, pitched last night.