Junior College baseball kicked off today and all eyes (and ears) were on Henderson, Nev., home of the College of Southern Nevada, where Bryce Harper is making his collegiate debut against Arizona Western JC.
The most interesting news about today is that Harper is in the lineup at third base. CSN coach Tim Chambers indicated in the fall that Harper would be splitting time 50-50 between outfield and catcher. But, he also took some groundballs in the infield during fall practice and the Coyotes have a lot of talented sophomores to squeeze into the lineup. For scouts that believe Harper will outgrow catcher or need to play a different position to get the bat to the big leagues more quickly, this will give them a look at Harper at another position in a live-game situation.
Harper drew a walk on five pitches in his first collegiate at-bat. In his second trip to the plate, he hit a groundball RBI single to right field. After the hit, Chambers walked out to the mound to take the baseball out of play, presumably to save it for Harper. Harper then stole second base.
Update: In his third trip to the plate, Harper flied out to shallow right-center.
Update: In the fifth inning, Harper fielded his first groundball and fired it to first, but his throw was off line and ruled an error.
Update: In his fourth plate appearance, Harper struck out on three pitches.
Update: In his fifth and final trip, the pitcher was trying to issue an intentional walk to Harper, but Harper wanted nothing of it. One of the pitches was a little too close and Harper reached out and drilled a fly ball to center field. The ball was caught, but a runner tagged and scored from third, making it a sacrifice fly.
Update: CSN won the game, 11-4.
According to articles published in Las Vegas newspapers today, Harper is also off-limits to the media. "No autographs, handshakes, interviews or conversations. Just baseball," wrote Ray Brewer in the Las Vegas Sun.
An estimated 1,200 people showed up to Morse Stadium to see the game live. For those unable to see it in person, CC of Southern Nevada streams the broadcast of all their games live here.
The Coyotes take on Yavapai (Ariz.) JC Jan. 30 in a doubleheader beginning at noon, and then another game against Arizona Western Jan. 31 at 12:30 p.m.
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