Harpers Skips Potomac, Moved To Harrisburg

Some thoughts on the oft-rumored bypass

First off, let me say I’m not as disappointed as you might think. But some questions are going be begged, and I fully expect them not to be answered honestly.

The knee-jerk reaction is “The Field! They don’t want our precious Bryce Harper playing in that sinkhole in right field”

Which begs the question: Why is it okay for 21-year-old, Carolina League All-Star Destin Hood to play there?

I don’t expect anyone to officially state that the field was the reason because they don’t want to answer my question, which has some rather uncomfortable inferences.

The more nuanced interpretation:

Cynical side of me thinks Harper bypassed Potomac more to keep him away from local fans longer — MissChatter, a.k.a. Cathy Taylor

There’s a lot more evidence to support this conclusion. Specifically, the treatment of Stephen Strasburg last season. Care to guess how many starts he made in the states of Virginia or Maryland last April, May and June?


That’s right. Strasburg was carefully handled to pitch away from greater DC, and it’s fair to infer that they want the same space for Harper. It would not surprise me in the least if he were placed on the 7-Day DL from July 21 to 27 to skip roadtrips to Bowie and Richmond, both of which are the final visits for Harrisburg in the regular season.

Hope I’m wrong about that, but if I’m right, you read it here first.

For my money, I’m glad the throngs of autograph whores and fanboys will pass us by in Potomac, just as the folks in Hagerstown have already expressed their relief that a return to normality is upon them. There’s a lot more satisfaction in seeing the likes of Tom Milone, Brad Peacock, Tyler Moore, and Hood start to “get it” as they make their way up the chain. Thanks to this move, that experience will continue without the pseudofan excitement.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of NationalsProspects.com. Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

34 thoughts on “Harpers Skips Potomac, Moved To Harrisburg”

  1. If it is the field? Then what about Rendon who is at least as valuable if not more valuable than Harper and likely better able to handle the rigors of AA right out of the box especially defensively which is Harper’s biggest glaring weakness.

    Does Rendon bypass Potomac? And what about Brian Goodwin? Once these guys are signed they have to be considered top 10 prospects in the Nats system?

    If the purpose is to provide offense for the big club now. Rendon might be an injury issue as we now see that Zimmerman still is and Morse now might be. Getting less than 100% of those two certainly would a factor in creating an even weaker offense on the big club. Things seem pretty dicey so one would expect there to be more moves including moves from Syracuse to the big club. Both Antonelli and Lombardozzi can play third and manage in the outfield. If Morse ends up on the DL do they bring up Marerro and Aubrey to make a platoon pair of power hitters or do they just stick with Stairs and bring up Marerro.

    I guess we’ll see at the All Star break which should have given Davey Johnson and his newly configured coaching staff the requisite time to evaluate things.

    If the purpose is the avoid pseudo fans / DC area fans? Might not the same thing happen with Rendon? And when Strasburg starts his minor league rehab? They don’t seem to concerned by the massive Taiwanese contingent following Wang around the minors? I confess this rationale confuses me the most and requires a bit more of the
    logic surrounding the inception of this hypothesis?

    1. Yes, it might happen with Rendon and until Strasburg starts his rehab, betting against him in appearing in Woodbridge is the smart money play. As others have noted, Rendon is unlikely to sign until the deadline and unlikely to play anywhere but the GCL this season. Given the current makeup of the farm, it’s easily foreseeable for Rendon to be assigned to Harrisburg to start 2012.

  2. Outside of Strasburg and Harper, there’s nobody that Dave Sheinin is going to cover intensely on a regular basis. They are special cases. Strasburg with his reclusive personality and Harper with his sometimes immature actions are not things they want under the microscope but so much, especially if the big club starts to falter. Harper’s clearly ready to hit in Harrisburg. So why keep him down in the SALLY or Potomac much longer?

    Of course, I have my own theory: Nats brass wanted to avoid the microscope of Sue Dinem’s Last Night in Woodbridge and skip to newb Souldrummer’s Harrisburg and Syracuse recaps.

    1. Sould: I think you nailed it with the final line. The Nats’ would prefer to avoid having their ‘chosen one’ eviscerated by Sue_D & others in the local blogosphere; What they forget is that we have eyes everywhere here – Bwhaa-hahahaha!

      1. Yeah, Rizzo developed a phobia about the blogosphere. LOL

        He no longer posts to his MASN blog?

        Personally, I wouldn’t mind if they swapped him out for Harris or Scialaba or someone with an insider view of the farm system. Honestly, I wouldn’t at all mind a MASN blog for NatsFarm and Brian Oliver? I don’t that blog would require as much time and effort? But … that could be pretty scary for Rizzo and the FO.

  3. Harper needs to learn how to play the outfield at a high level and harrisburg gives him that chance. Better question is who stays and who goes in Harrisburg. Also who plays everyday in the other 2 outfield spots. Syracuse will get a very good outfielder most likely Rahl or Gilbert. Which one has upside still and which one gets to tutor Harper by example?

  4. Everyone worried about Rendon next year I believe Rizzo already said the outfield will be addressed this offseason.

    1. Rendon won’t be in the outfield of that you can be deadly certain. The guy is a gold glove potential at third base. He will likely be just as good at second base. And unlike Ian Desmond he comes with a big bat.

  5. Since Harper is the first everyday player promoted from Hagerstown this year, I’m having a hard time buying that Potomac is being bypassed due to field condition alone. Hagerstown has sent up a handfull of pitchers, so the franchise isn’t being shunned by the WSH front-office.

    What I do believe is that Harper is a special case, and will be challenged more in AA than he probably would have been by spending time in high-A. As a P-Nats STH, sure I’m dissapointed that I won’t get to see him ‘up close & personal’, but there’s still plenty to watch & enjoy here at the Phitz.

    1. Amen, brother. The second half has just begun. Olbrychowski’s pitching better as a starter than a reliever. Solis appears to be on the verge of joining the rotation. Soriano is playing like he knows this is his best chance to become the next Michael Martinez. Leon and Ramirez are starting to show a pulse at the plate and Souza’s starting to heat up again. My guess is that we’ll only lose Hood and Rosenbaum when it comes time for AFL move-ups. So we can root for a second-half run for the playoffs, too.

      1. I could see Eury geting called up to AA for the AFL, but they could wait for next year for him to go to the AFL

  6. Good call Mel , you said all along that Harper would never see Potomac, I understand the managements thoughts , but it wuld of been nice to have the fans in Potomac to see him for a couple of weeks. Know without sound to much like a Minion , please move Manno up. Keeping him in Hagerstown, is completely 100% useless what else does he have to do

    1. Actually Ladson announced this months ago and made it sound like it was an edict from on high. That Harper’s next stop would be Harrisburg and not Potomac. It makes the purveyor of Bad-Ass-Tunes look like he has the right connections and pretty solid advanced insider info. Its why I continue to read and follow what he says. Not for his opinions but because of his connections.

  7. rfdad-

    You said what I was wondering- who is the odd man out in H-burg? You indicate that at least one OF is ready for Syracuse. Which?


    1. They could move Gilbert up. But then in Syracuse you have already just promoted Valdez. Corey Brown is still there. Odd man out in Syracuse could be Jeff Frazier as they will want to wait on Brown.

  8. Sue-

    Michael Martinez is certainly living the dream, but with his stats in Phialdelphia, I can’t feel like the Nats lost too much in the Rule 5 draft. I am willing to be corrected on that, but it really seems like the Phils are so powerful that they can waste a roster spot on a defensive player who could go to the minors again next year.


    1. +1/2 Street: Hopefully, there will be a number of players within the system who in the upcoming seasons that get the chance that Martinez did this year; If the Nationals are pushing ML-quality players into RuleV situations, that’s a sign of a healthy minor-league system, and an affermation of the recent drafts.

      The Phillies’ didn’t waste a roster spot on Martinez; They picked up a possible 2B-OF who has been able to help them out by filling holes, given their injuries to Utley & Victorino.

  9. I listened to Rizzo’s explanation of Harper’s double move up and it was 100% bulls@#%. Reminds me of his first interview after Riggs quit and everything he said was a lie.

    The bottom line here is the Nats F.O. can’t be counted on to ever tell the truth to us minor league seamheads unless they can’t help it. God forbid they explain why Manno and Freitas are growing stale in Hagerstown.

  10. This is one non-psuedo NATS Fan who is dissapointed that I will not be able to see Harper play in the Keys stadium this August. Others have adequtely refuted the “Field Theory” as to why Harper was skipped over Potomac. And I believe the NATS will win 79 games and that Harper will not seee the bigs this season. Also, Double N believes Deitweller will start tomorrow. Any word on that?

  11. And to all of you who have disagreed with me since the beginning of the year when I guaranteed The Golden Child would never set foot in Silber’s Dump – I TOLD YOU. If you still think this has nothing to do with the field, if you think it has nothing to do with taking a shot at Silber for his inaction and buffonery, then keep on dreaming while you are on your way up 81 to see The Brat play on the island.

    1. Congrats – You got one right.

      While I’m admittedly dissapointed that the Potomac fanbase won’t get the chance to see Harper at the Phitz, I’m personally pleased with tracking prospects as they move up the chain toward DC and their 1st possible (or return) MLB appearance with the Nationals.

      While I neither want or need to know what your issues are with Silber & the PWCPA, I’d hope you could look at the current team objectively & post occaisionally on the actual play on the field, instead of the single note “I hate Silber” poster you have appeared to be.

      The setup & conditions at the Phitz could certainly be better, but the blog is about the teams & players, not the field(s) & franchise holders. Give it a rest, please.

  12. The Nats shouldn’t pretend like he’s just another prospect because he’s not. Lesser players will be promoted to Potomac after the season…..he deserves more.

    1. Nobody’s asking for Harper to be treated as an equal but we are asking that the front office to start treating its minor-league fans with some respect and stop being so disingenuous. There’s enough catering to the casual, uninformed, entitled, and obsequious fans that are more than willing to elevate an 18-year-old manchild to demigod status.

      1. Sue,

        Again, I know how many here might feel about Ladson but he did announce this move more than a month ago, almost as an FO edict. His unnamed sources were right on the money again. It was there for all to read and I believe I did copy and paste here in response to the clamoring for Harper to go to Potomac.

        If Ladson knew about this in May you have to figure that this was in the FO’s plan all along.

        1. I’ll go on record as being a fan of Ladson, even if I’m not sure how he found the time to play Stevie’s father on “Malcolm In The Middle”… and I’ll agree with you that the decision was made long before the field problems, um, surfaced… I’m cynically arguing that “the plan” is to keep Harper away from greater DC in the same way (and for the same reasons) as was done with Strasburg.

  13. Sue, your telling me that the front office knew in April that Harper was going to AA. BS. This is a slap in the face of Silber for the second year in a row. Do you remember the Strasburg ticket plan that was quickly removed from the website as soon as it went up. And Silber was telling fans that the front office had promised him that Harper would be in Potomac for his 2 week home stand. Just like “I walked Jackie Robinson to the player entrance:”, “I played stick-ball with Duke Snider.” and the one we have all heard for 15 years “There will be an announcement on the new stadium in 6 to 8 weeks.” Don’t believe a word out of the carpetbaggers mouth, no of ot is true. Also did you think that the would send to golden boy to Potomac to work with our hitting coach Mr. 195 career average.

    1. I believe they knew in March when and where they wanted to play Harper, just as they knew last February that Strasburg was going to Harrisburg, which is why that promo was torpedoed so quickly.
      I’m more certain that Art Silber has no influence, say, or sway as to which players play in Potomac. Quite frankly, it would be a frightening thought if the minor league franchise owners did have any input into the process. There’s always going to be a certain degree of enmity towards ownership, but that’s not our focus here, which is on the players and the organization.

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