Washington Nationals Expected to Lose Remaining 100 Games: Bryce Harper to Skip Final Two Years of High School

Based on his raw talent, Harper might have gone #1 in this year's draft.

Based on his raw talent, Harper might have gone #1 in this year's draft.

Just about a week after being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, phenom Bryce Harper drastically altered the 2009 baseball season without so much as picking up a bat or throwing a ball. On Sunday, Harper’s father made an announcement that Bryce would be forgoing his final two years of high school to enter the 2010 MLB Draft. In order to be eligible, Harper plans on attaining a GED and then enrolling at a community college (somewhere in Ohio, Lebron James wonders why he didn’t come up with the same idea). Harper would conceivably be the number one pick of the Washington Nationals, who at 16-45, are the worst team in baseball by nearly 10 games. That would give the Nationals back-to-back number one picks after selecting Stephen Strasburg in last week’s draft, and might finally give Washington baseball fans something to get excited about (other than waiting for the inevitable Elijah Dukes implosion). But with this recent development, and Harper’s once in a generation talent, it might not be long before teams start throwing games like the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2002-03. If any team signs Jose Lima or Denny Neagle as starting pitchers, the battle for inferiority could get ugly.

After reading Tom Verducci’s article in the June 8th Sports Illustrated, it became clear that Harper had little left to prove at the high school levelAs a sophomore Harper hit .626 with 14 HRs, 55 RBI and stole 36 bases; numbers most people would struggle to post in a season of Wiffle Ball against the cast of The Biggest Loser.  At only 16 he already looks like a major leaguer, standing at 6’3″ and weighing 205 lbs, in addition to throwing 96 miles-an-hour and hitting 500+ foot longballs. He draws rave reviews for his defense at catcher and his speed and strength are unheralded for a player his age. Against top international talent in the 16U Pan Am Championships last year, Harper was named MVP after hitting .571 and slugging 1.214. To put it quite simply, Harper is ready for a new challenge.

At only 16, Harper's bat speed has been measured at over 100 mph.

Harper's bat speed has been measured at over 100 mph.

Although he will probably receive criticism for his decision to skip high school, Harper won’t be the first player under 18 to ever sign with a major league team. The majority of these players have been foreign born, so Bryce will be breaking new ground in a sense, but what motivation does he have to play two more years of high school? Talented players from Latin America can sign as soon as they turn 16, the same age that Miguel Cabrera was when the Marlins signed him for over $1 million. Of course that contract will look like a bargain compared to what Harper will receive after being drafted in 2010; his agent is the hellspawn infamous Scott Boras. Harper has nothing to gain by staying in high school, risking injury or plateauing as a player by continuing to compete against inferior talent. His stock will likely never rise higher than it is now, and with Boras asking around $50 million for Strasburg, the question becomes: what ungodly sum of money will Harper receive from the Nationals in 2010? $75 million? $100 million? By making himself eligible for next year’s draft, Bryce Harper puts himself in a position to be set for life…at the age of 17.