All About Bryce Harper


See Also: Bryce Harper Q&A (May 18, 2010)


Monday night Bryce Harper will likely become the first junior college player to be the first-overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft. But, of course, his legacy already extends far beyond that.

Harper has been the buzz of the scouting community for several years now. Here is a collection of references to Bryce Harper over the years at BaseballAmerica.com and a collection of quotes about Harper from some of the people that know him best. . .

Harper was first mentioned in Baseball America in 2005 as part of our “Baseball For The Ages” feature, where BA would list the best player at each age between 12 and 25. Harper wasn’t listed as the best 12-year-old (that would be another possible first-rounder, Delino DeShields), but was listed as the best 12-year-old right fielder and “possibly the country’s best 12-year-old hitter.”

Harper’s next mentions came in June 2008, when we wrote how Harper ranked among the state’s top talents even as a freshman. Then in August 2008, when he played in the Area Code Games and the Aflac All-American Game after his freshman year of high school, Harper stood out again. Here is what we wrote after the Area Code Games:

A rising sophomore (2011 class), Bryce Harper from Las Vegas High is quickly becoming a prodigy as he consistently wows scouts with his huge power, ability to square up on the ball in almost every at-bat and his well above-average arm behind the plate. Harper also runs well and grades high in athleticism, especially for a catcher. At the age of 15, Harper is 6-feet-3, 200 pounds and is already represented by the Boras Corporation. Many scouts feel Harper would have been the first pick in the 2008 draft, had he been eligible, and is the very safe bet to be the top choice in 2011.

Harper showed off his arm strength at the Aflac workout.

Bryce Harper was one of three catchers in rotation to receive throws during pregame infield/outfield. Halfway through warmups, Harper stepped back from home plate and turned his body toward the first base line. Suddenly and without warning or provocation, Harper fired a screaming, straight line trajectory, missile down the line and over the fence in the right field corner, covering a distance of 340 feet.

Most scouts had departed after the Aflac scrimmage, but the few left were stunned. Whispered comments included: “Did you see that?”, “Why did he do that?” and “I can’t believe it!”

Perhaps due to utter shock, no one retrieved the baseball.

Harper’s legend grew when he participated in the 2009 Power Showcase, an offseason home run derby at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay. Harper finished in second place in the event, but put on a jaw-dropping show that included the longest home run in Tropicana Field history—a 502-foot blast that slammed against the back wall.

Harper followed that up by hitting .626/.723/1.339 as a sophomore at Las Vegas High and became the first underclassman to be named Baseball America’s High School Player of the Year.

Harper spent the following summer on the showcase circuit and with Team USA, helping them win gold medals against Cuba. The summer took it’s toll on the 16-year-old and he lost about 25 pounds. When Harper got his G.E.D. and showed up to JC of Southern Nevada, head coach Tim Chambers shielded the phenom from most media requests so that he could focus all of his attention on school and baseball.

Harper regained his strength and went out to hit .442/.524/.986, mostly with wood bats. He hit 29 home runs, shattering the previous CSN record of 12 (from 2001, when the league still used aluminum bats).

Finally, here are some quotes about Harper, from a few of the people that know Bryce the best. . .

“Certainly, I expected him to have success, but I never saw this coming.”

—JC of Southern Nevada head coach Tim Chambers

“When he’s in the outfield, guys hit singles now and it’s almost like Little League because they won’t round the bag. They stop on the bag for fear that if they round it, he’s coming. And he is.”

—JC of Southern Nevada head coach Tim Chambers

“We’re 400 (feet) to center field with a 25-foot fence. I’ve personally seen every game here since this program’s existence, which is 11 years, and I’ve seen six balls go over the scoreboard in center field and five of them were with aluminum and one of them was with wood, and that was Bryce’s this year.”

—JC of Southern Nevada head coach Tim Chambers

“He’s been hitting in our cages probably since he was 6. I met his dad playing softball like 20 years ago and then they would just come out and hit in our cages. It’s not as big a town as people think it is. If you live here a while, you get to know everybody. If you play baseball in this town, all the baseball people know each other. He was just kind of pudgy when he was younger, but when he was 8 or 9 you started to realize he was special because he you just couldn’t believe someone that young was hitting the ball that hard. I mean, he hit the ball hard.”

—JC of Southern Nevada head coach Tim Chambers

“When I first started, at 6 years old, in T-Ball, he was 3 and he was out there hitting with us. He started at three years old. That’s one thing people don’t understand, is he started at 3 years old, playing with 6 year olds, and he was doing stuff that I was doing at 6, he was doing at 3.”

—Bryan Harper, Bryce’s older brother and lefthanded pitcher for CSN

“The whole Harper family is very competitive. We don’t like to lose and I think that’s a great quality. Sometimes it gets in the way, but wanting to win is just the way we’ve always been raised.”

—Bryan Harper, Bryce’s older brother and lefthanded pitcher for CSN

“We had to share a room and he was the dirty kid, and I hated it. I would yell at him to pick his stuff up, or he would take my clothes and I would be mad about it, or we’d fight about video games and, growing up, whenever we’d start arguing and stuff, our parents would actually give us boxing glove and we’d set up a ring in our living room and we would box it out. That started when I was 8 or 9, so he was probably 6. He’s a crazy kid that just punches and kicks and when he punches, he just backhands the other way, so he’s really crazy. And I’m the sit-back and I’ll just punch you in the face when you come at me, because I’m really long because I’ve always been taller than him, but he’s a crazy fighter.”

—Bryan Harper, Bryce’s older brother and lefthanded pitcher for CSN

“The way the ball came off the bat was something I’ve never heard or seen at that age. It was just amazing and it’s only gotten better.”

—Buck Thomas, instructor at Bat-R-Up and Angels part-time scout

On Seeing Harper hit for the first time, in eighth grade

“He’s a great kid. He’s the guy who comes to workout and says hello to everybody and he hangs out just like any regular player of ours. He’s very thankful when he’s done. He picks up his own balls just like everybody else does. He pays his dues to hit here just like everybody else does. There’s no special treatment and there never has been. It bothers me that all these people make these assumptions and make these comments and write these articles that he’s such a bad guy and so cocky. . . you try being Bryce Harper for a day and let’s see how you respond. If that was me, I would have fought someone and probably would have been suspended by now.”

—Buck Thomas, instructor at Bat-R-Up and Angels part-time scout

“In the offseason, at 9 o’clock we shut this place down and Shane Victorino comes in and Jeff Malm comes in and Bryce asked if he could come hit with those guys. And Victorino is kind of the veteran pro guy in town that takes the younger guys that get drafted every year and shows them how to work out in the offseason and tells them when it’s time to start hitting, and that kind of stuff. So Bryce comes over and hits with Shane and Jeff Malm for an hour and a half a couple nights in a row and Shane gives him his glove, his center fielder glove and Bryce was like a kid in a candy store. He was just amazed as anybody else was that Shane Victorino gave him his glove. He’s just a normal kid and he’s got gloves, but now he’s playing center field with Shane Victorino’s glove. That’s pretty cool! He was red in the face, smiling ear to ear, just like any other kid.”

—Buck Thomas, instructor at Bat-R-Up and Angels part-time scout

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