The Arizona Fall League is underway for winter ball in the US, and the Washington Nationals top prospects are playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions for yet another offseason. C Derek Norris, LHP Sammy Solis, RHP Rafael Martin, and RHP Pat Lehman join Nats LHP Matt Purke, who was drafed in the 2011 Amateur Draft, 3B Zach Walters, who was picked up in the Jason Marquis trade, and of course, OF Bryce Harper.
Harper has started 4 of the Scorpions 5 games this season, and the beginning hasn't been stellar. Before I list off a few stats, it's important to note that fall league players, like Harper, tend to work on different things and batting average tends to be a bit less important. This is also an extremely small sample size in a new ballpark and new environment, and it doesn't mean he won't finish the fall season on a tear. It's just a snapshot-in-time review.
In 4 games, Harper has gone just 1 for 16 with 4 strikeouts and 1 walk. His only hit was a single, but he has stolen 2 bases in his appearances so far. Harper does have that unique ability to show speed with remarkable power. Also of interesting note, Harper has played Left Field in 3 of his 4 games, and Right Field in just one of those games. Before the Jayson Werth signing, Harper, a former catcher, was being groomed to be the Nationals RF in waiting. Since the team signed the $126 million Werth, Harper looks like he's being tested in some other OF roles.
To contrast Harper's start to winter ball, San Francisco Giants star Brandon Crawford, who spent parts of the 2011 regular season in the Major Leagues, is 4 for 12 with a .385 OBP in his first 3 games this fall.
This is only to illustrate an initial impression between the two future stars. Crawford spent parts of 66 games with the Giants big league club, and despite his limited success there, the difference between someone coming from the majors to someone who will be a star there in the coming seasons is evident with these two players' starts.
We'll keep an eye on Harper's, and the other Nats prospects playing in the Arizona Fall League, progress throughout the offseason here on The Nats Blog. Stay tuned...