Ben Goessling of MasnSports.com reports that Bryce Harper, the Nationals number one overall pick in 2010, will not play in the Gulf Coast League this season:
"Bryce Harper's professional career will begin sometime next week, when the Nationals introduce him to the media at Nationals Park and send him to the Nationals' Gulf Coast League affiliate in Viera, Fla., for the end of their season. But Harper won't play any games for the rookie league team, general manager Mike Rizzo said today...Rizzo said Harper will work out with the team in the final days of its season, getting ready to play in the Nationals' instructional league this fall."
Comments leading into last weeks signing indicated that the 17-year-old Harper was "dying to play," however, it looks like he will have to wait to get his chance. The Nationals want to get Harper into their camp and give him some coaching before they expose him to professional competition, which makes sense. While Harper dominated his junior college opponents last season, batting .443 with 31 home runs and 98 RBIs, there are some who claim there are holes in his left-handed power stroke and that there are parts of his game that are a bit immature.
The Nationals are also doing themselves a favor by making sure they get Harper his coaching, before any opportunity for failure. It is a lot easier to make adjustments in a player while he still has strong confidence, and the last thing they want to do is put him in a situation to fail...especially before he turns 18.
Harper will be introduced as a National during the next home stand.