Tonight, in Phoenix, the most talked about hitting prospect of the last decade will be showing off the skills that made him the top pick of the 2010 draft by the Washington Nationals. Bryce Harper will bat second and play left field for the U.S. team in the 2011 XM All-Stars Futures Game, giving the fans at Arizona's Chase Field the chance to see the phenom who has already been promoted to Washington's Class AA affiliate Harrisburg after tearing through the Low-A South Atlantic League while a member of the Hagerstown Suns.
Harper hit .318 in Hagerstown, with 14 home runs, 46 runs batted in, 19 steals and 44 walks. As has been noted many times before, Harper has tremendous power but also great plate discipline, and his speed makes him an asset on the base paths as well. It doesn't hurt that he also has a cannon for an arm, and is showing improvement as he works to become a capable big league outfielder. Nationals fans can only hope the comparisons to Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez become reality for Harper.
Harper is not the only player representing the Nationals in the game. Right-hander Brad Peacock, now Harper's teammate at Class AA Harrisburg, will pitch the second inning for the U.S. squad. Tony Beasley, the skipper at Harrisburg, is also at the game as a coach.
Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post will be live-blogging the Futures Game, and has mentioned Harper wasted no time showing off, crushing several batting practice home runs already.