Bryce Harper To Make His MLB Debut On Saturday

It’s the news you’ve been whining waiting to see: Bryce Harper will be recalled from Syracuse and make his major-league debut tomorrow in Dodger Stadium.

The move will come in conjunction with Ryan Zimmerman’s placement on the 15-Day DL for an inflammation of the AC joint. The move will be retroactive to April 21.

“We thought that we needed to bring in an impactful[sic] left-handed bat,” Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo told reporters at a press conference this afternoon. Rizzo also noted that Harper will initially play left field, and admitted the move was out of need due to injuries to Zimmerman and Michael Morse.

“This wasn’t the coming out party for Bryce we had in mind,” Rizzo said.

With the retroactive placement on the DL, Ryan Zimmerman could be activated on May 6th, which could also mean that Harper will return to AAA. In the meantime, Rizzo said that Harper will likely be the everyday left fielder, the position he played yesterday in the first game of the doubleheader.

While previously Rizzo had remarked that once Harper was recalled he would stay, this afternoon he backpedaled from that assertion, citing OF Mike Trout, who was recalled from AA to the Los Angeles Angels for 40 games last summer.

“(There’s) a possibility that this might not be his breakout moment. This could be a step sideways to take a leap forward,” Rizzo said.

Perhaps coincidentally, Stephen Strasburg will be the starting pitcher tomorrow in Los Angeles. Perhaps not coincidentally, Harper’s 20+ days of AAA service ensures that the 19-year-old phenom will not become a free agent until after the 2018 season.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Quotes were taken from Nationals beat writers on Twitter as this was written in real time to meet a personal deadline of filing something before leaving to attend tonight’s Potomac Nationals game. I mention this in the spirit of professionalism and disclosure.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of 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.

13 thoughts on “Bryce Harper To Make His MLB Debut On Saturday”

  1. I would think Davey Johnson had a lot to do with this. It’s a ballsy move and I’m on board with it. It shows they are playing to win rather than not to lose. Damn I wish he was playing tonight.

  2. Rizzo’s mantra about having to dominate at every minor league level seems most often honored in the breech. Okay, Stras dominated in AA and AAA; but Stras is, well, Stras. Desi’s last year in the minors was very good with the bat, around .350, so maybe that qualifies; but before that, not so much, low to mid .200s. Espi never dominated, hitting a respectable mid to high .200s. Harper’s never dominated anywhere, except maybe AFL. He got to the mid .300s at Hagerstown before ending up at .318. At AA and AAA he’s been in the mid .200s. The best they can say it that he’s started to hit the ball hard … I say, YES, bring him up and play him for the rest of the year — unless it gets uglier than the .097 that the bench has put up. (Bos has a good column this morning, including a look at Willie’s and Mickey’s starts at a similar age.) But can be drop the “dominate at every level” stick? Why not simply “when I and my team think it’s time to bring a kid up based on stats and our gut feeling, then it’s time”?

    1. Keith Law’s lede kind of sums it up:
      “Forgive me if I’m picturing Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo making the call to Syracuse to recall Bryce Harper while sitting in his chair and staring down the barrel of a gun held by the team’s VP of sales.”

      With the team ace going today, and against one of the marquee franchises, and tough draws at home for three of the next four series (D-Backs, Padres, Pirates) it’s hard to argue against that inference. It smells like vamping.

      I’d also feel better about this move if they were less sanguine about his playing time — we’re gonna sit him against certain lefties, for example.

      Sickels looks at it this way:
      “So, what should we expect at this point? It would surprise no one if Harper initially struggles given his lack of high-level experience. On the other hand, he has a habit of impressing people at the right time and it also wouldn’t surprise me if he gets off to a great start. The Nationals say that Harper might end up back in the minors once Zimmerman is healthy, which is exactly what you would expect them to say given the circumstances. It gives them an out if he has adjustment issues.”

  3. The Nationals have roughly 10 million reasons why they are moving Harper up as fast as they can (his signing bonus!). This is not going to insure long term success for either him or the franchise. He did not dominate at AA let alone AAA. His outfield play is adequate at best. Above all his emotional maturity is at the low A level.
    Harper has talent, lots of it. He needs to develop it in a less than goldfish type of atmosphere like the major leagues. The very celebrity which will sell tickets now will also bite back when the scrutiny of the press and the fans really starts. Yes DC isn’t NYC in terms of pressure but it isn’t Harrisburg or Syracuse either.

  4. Harper spent very little time in AA or AAA, but in both cases he had distinctly improved in the latter stages of his tenure there.

    1. What latter stage of tenure in AAA?
      He’s played in less than 30 games.
      As far as his fielding, he’s still in a steep learning curve when it comes to CF, he’s adequate in RF, and I’ve missed only 2 Chiefs home games this season, and do not recall him ever playing LF.
      DC ought to be interesting.
      I’m not dissing the kid. He’s only 19 and still learning professional baseball. The key word there is learning.

      I hope he succeeds with the Nats.

  5. Harper has played a number of games in left field. Sorry, didn’t mean the word tenure to be taken so literally. After a number of games at AA and AAA, he got better. Ditto Hagerstown and in Arizonia. There is a distinct pattern whereever he goes.

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