Sunday, May 15, 2011

So, about that Harper guy...

As a bunch of you know, I was at the BlueClaws game on Friday night, and saw Bryce Harper play in person, in his first local appearance. Here's some of what I saw. Apologies for the not-great pics, but the camera on my cheap-ass phone does not have a zoom. Oh, and before anyone sasses me about the timing of this pic, I waited until the kids singing the anthem finished the word "brave" before I snapped it. Harper's #34 (if you didn't know already), 2nd from the end on the right.

And here's Harp on deck.

The only (blurry) shot I got of him at the plate, late in the game right before he flied out to center, if I'm remembering correctly.

Almost definitely the only peace and quiet this kid gets right now.

So, how'd he do? His line on the 4 game series so far isn't great, but isn't bad, either. 3-12 with a walk, a few strikeouts, a caught stealing, a game-winning solo HR yesterday and a run scored today. His hitting streak ended at 18 today, but he did get on base and score (the walk mentioned above). To my slightly untrained eye, it looked like he was pressing a little Friday night, not because of the streak, but because Lakewood got the best of him in their first meeting, and because I think he takes the Phils/Nats rivalry seriously even at this level, which is pretty cool. 

His one hit in Friday's game was a really weak bouncer in front of home plate that barely cleared the dirt, but he was UNBELIEVABLY fast down the line to first, and beat it out despite ample coverage on the play. I'd put his time to first, on at least that play, in the same league as guys like Ichiro and Bobby Abreu (who was damn near impossible to get out on a grounder for years; not sure how he's doing this year).

The caught stealing came in a situation where his team had a 4 run lead, and it looked like he was trying to get his teammates a look at Biddle's pickoff move. He didn't look like he was asleep at the wheel or inexperienced there. I could be reading into things too much, but it had this feeling of purpose to it; smart, unselfish team baseball, helping out guys he might not even be playing with for much longer. 

The other thing that really impressed me about him was his arm. Now, I've seen guys like Winfield, Sheffield and Vlad (in his prime) who had CRAZY right field arms, absolute cannons. Harper's throwing style is very different than theirs, as he doesn't get as much height with his throws (it almost looks like he's pitching when he throws, in terms of height of throw), but he throws HARD and is unbelievably accurate. I saw what was literally the best cut-off throw I've ever seen in my life on Friday, absolutely perfect, out of Bryce Harper, and he's only been playing the position full-time for a few months.

I don't know how many people saw all the things I saw, but they definitely were there, and I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing how he progresses, provided that the superstar attention doesn't drive him nuts first. Yep, the autograph seekers were INSANE at the game. Probably two hundred people, a hundred at each end of the dugout, pre-game, and another hundred waiting by the clubhouse door 90 minutes after the game (the BlueClaws had to sneak him out another door to the bus, because there was just no way the team would've made curfew if he'd stopped to sign for anyone). To his credit, he signed for a LOT of people pre-game, and made a point to try and get autos to as many kids as possible. I didn't have any luck, but I saw a few signatures on baseballs and such, and they looked great, nice and clean, lots of attention to detail.

Anyway, that's my report on "The Chosen One". Have any of you seen him play yet, and if so, how did my experience compare to yours?

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