Revisiting Bryce Harper
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."
Greg Rybarczyk, who maintains the indispensable site Hit Tracker Online, which logs and calculates the trajectory of every major league home run, covered Harper's exploits at the Home Run Derby contest:
Over the next 60 seconds, Harper unleashed an awe-inspiring series of hits to areas of Tropicana Field few major leaguers have reached:
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).
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.