Entering the MLB with as much hype as any prospect in recent memory, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has been as good as advertised in his first eight games in the majors. The 19-year-old, who was once dubbed baseball’s chosen one on the cover of Sports Illustrated during his sophomore year of high school, has proven that he is destined to join MLB’s elite, hitting .308 thus far with five doubles and an OPS of .924. Not only has he shown his brilliance offensively, but Harper has also exceeded expectations defensively, transitioning flawlessly from catcher into the outfield while showcasing what many scouts consider to be one of the best arms in baseball.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Harper’s game, and the part that will lead to his emergence as a once-in-a-generation type of ballplayer, is his hustle and determination on the baseball field. Despite having what is perceived as a cocky attitude, Harper plays the game with an intensity unmatched by any opponent, something that is especially impressive considering he is the youngest player in the MLB. This passion was put on full display Sunday night against the Phillies when he, after being intentionally hit by Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, stole home plate scoring the first run of the frame. Later on in the game, through his sheer grit and determination, Harper stretched a bloop-single into a double by hustling out of the batter’s box and not giving up on the play.
“It’s impressive,” said Hamels to the Associated Press after the game. “He’s got a lot of talent. He’s going to be a really good ball player. He’s got a lot of energy.”
Harper’s potential as a baseball player has never been questioned. Ever since he elected to forego his senior year of high school to play one season at the College of Southern Nevada, every baseball scout in the country knew he would become something special if he could keep his attitude and ego in check. Eight games into his major league career, it has been his unmatched effort and desire to win that has separated him from any other prospect of his age.
That fire, coupled with his already incredible skill set, is what will turn Bryce Harper into a force to be reckoned with on the diamond for many years to come.