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Bryce Harper's Florida Instructional League Grade: Forrest Gump

Because you never knew what you were going to get, like the box of chocolates thing. You get it.

Over the past few weeks Bryce Harper has been getting his first professional experience with the Nationals in the Florida Instructional League. We don't have the stats, but we have reports from a guy who has taken a pretty special interest in Bryce Harper and how he progresses through the minors.

Adam Kilgore has quotes from the Nationals Director of Player Development Doug Harris that confirm what we already suspected; Bryce Harper is a very, very talented baseball player, but to this point, inconsistency is his defining quality.

Which is not to say that he is not meeting expectations. Harper has shown flashes of briliiance, but he's a young player that still has a lot to learn about playing professional baseball. He has the tools, but his lack of experience is causing him to perform erratically.

He is still learning a new position, and he is facing the most advanced pitching of his life. One day this week in Lakeland, he turned a 95-mile-per-hour fastball into a tape-measure homer. There are also games when strikeouts pile up more than highlights.

"Good days and bad days," Harris said from Viera in a phone conversation. "He's had some days with a couple homers. But he's also swung through some balls. He's still a 17-year-old. As physical and athletic as he is, it's easy to overlook that at times. He looks like a 21-year-old college kid. He's taken a lot in regarding defense, base running, his approach to hitting, all the finer points of the game."

It has to be hard even for Harris, who makes a living developing and evaluating baseball prospects, to judge the progress of Bryce Harper. There's no handbook on how to bring along a 17-year-old prospect like that who is learning a new position to boot. We just don't know what normal progression looks like in that situation.

But I think the best thing we can take away from his comments are that he compares Harper to a 21-year-old college baseball player. The inconsistency is to be expected due to this being Harper's first professional experience, but suggesting that he carries himself like a much more experienced player is a positive evaluation; at least in my book.