Last August, I wrote an article entitled "Remember This Name," whereby I opened with the following paragraph:
Let me introduce you to the No. 1 pick in the 2011 amateur draft . . . Bryce Harper. I know, that particular draft won't take place for three more years. As such, how in the world could I make this type of a prediction now? Well, if you watched the 15-year-old, lefthanded-hitting catcher take batting practice, infield, and two plate appearances on Tuesday at the Area Code Games, as I did, then I have no doubt that you would be as enthusiastic about this phenom as I am.
Harper made some more noise earlier this month at the third annual International Power Showcase High School Home Run Derby at St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field. Although Harper didn't win the contest, according to Baseball America's Nathan Rode, the tenth grader "played the part of Josh Hamilton" while Christian Walker, a third baseman from Kennedy-Kenrick Catholic High in Norristown, Pennsylvania "served the role of Justin Morneau."
Over the next 60 seconds, Harper unleashed an awe-inspiring series of hits to areas of Tropicana Field few major leaguers have reached:
• 460 feet to the top edge of the Jumbotron in right field; 119 mph off the bat
• 484 feet to the back wall of the stadium, 15 feet above the Jumbotron; 122 mph
• 485 feet to the back wall, just below the orange Bright House “target” sign; 123 mph
• 405 feet on a blistering line drive around the RF pole; 118 mph
• 502 feet to the back wall, in the vicinity of the first “A” in the Tropicana Field sign, 20 feet above the top of the Jumbotron; 124.5 mph
• 477 feet to right-center field, halfway up and a few feet to the left of the Jumbotron; 119 mph.
Harper cranked six home runs with a metal bat, averaging 469 feet with an exit velocity of 121 mph. Photographer Jeff Horton captured Harper's longest homer below (with Rybarcyzk providing location and distance for each of his dozen home runs).
Notice the white ball toward the top, left-center of the photo. It traveled 502 feet, the longest of the event and on record at Tropicana. According to Rybarczyk, the ball would have exited Yankee Stadium. Greg told Baseball America's Rode, "It was hit at precisely the right direction to get just to the left of the upper deck in Yankee Stadium, but to the right of the bleachers and back bleacher wall. It would have cleared the back wall of Yankee Stadium with probably about 15 to 20 feet to spare."
Rode added, "Another one of his shots traveled 484 feet and at its angle would have landed in the right field Upper Deck of Fenway Park, which has never been done."
Harper hit 12 home runs overall — enough to make the top five — but slugged only one in the final round. Rybarczyk said the 16-year-old high school sophomore "looked worn out, understandably so since he had the misfortune to have hit 67th out of 69 batters, and had only a few minutes to recover before the finals."
Walker won the title by going yard nine times in the final round. Ryan Gunhouse (Clear Creek HS, League City, Texas), Randal Grichuk (Lamar Consolidated HS, Rosenburg, Texas), and Dante Bichette (Orangewood Christian, Maitland, Florida) joined Harper (Las Vegas HS, Las Vegas, Nevada) in the finals. Bichette, the son of the former Colorado Rockies slugger, is a sophomore as well.
The following video of Harper is worth watching if you want to see him in action at the International Power Showcase.
You can learn more about Harper at his player profile on the Power Showcase site. If nothing else, remember this name.