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Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 07/20/2011

Bryce Harper’s early struggles in Harrisburg are nothing to worry about


Bryce Harper is struggling. That will happen when an 18-year-old reaches one of the most advanced leagues there is. He went 0 for 4 with a strikeout last night in his 10th game at Class AA Harrisburg. He’s got six hits in 35 at-bats, with three walks and eight strikeouts. He doesn’t have an extra-base hit yet. In slash-line form, that looks like .171/.237/.171.

What does Harper’s slow start in Harrisburg mean for the future? For now, absolutely nothing. First, a sampling of 10 games tells you roughly the same about a player as asking him his favorite color will. Second, Harper has struggled at the outset of every new level he’s played at – and that includes junior college.

Last year – and, yeah, it’s hard to believe Harper was playing junior college baseball 15 months ago – Harper was a nervous 17-year-old who had taken the GED to enroll in college early. He hit poorly enough during his couple weeks at the College of Southern Nevada that he considered heading home. By the end of the year, he had won the Golden Spikes award as the best player in college ball and secured his status as the first overall pick.

Harper laid waste to the South Atlantic League, but that was only after he had seven hits and nine strikeouts in his first 31 at-bats.

The jump to Class AA is typically regarded as the toughest to make. Harper made it straight from Hagerstown, with no time at high-A Potomac. Harper is the youngest player in the Eastern League, and the Nationals plan on keeping him at Harrisburg for the next two months. He has time to master this league, and his history and his raw talent says he will. It will just take time, and Harper knows from experience how that works.

FROM THE POST

In the middle of a great season, Jordan Zimmermann had his worst game in the Nationals’ 7-6 loss to the Astros in Houston.

Boz says that baseball is changing to a low-scoring style, and the Nationals are planning for it.

If he’s ready, Stephen Strasburg should pitch this season, Tracee Hamilton writes.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse 4, Buffalo 3 (12 innings): Chien-Ming Wang allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings on seven hits and a walk, striking out four. He hit 91 mph with his fastball late in the game and threw 91 pitches, 62 strikes, and improved as the game went along. Brian Bixler hit a walk-off sac fly.

Harrisburg 5, Bowie 4: Derek Norris went 1 for 2 with a double and three walks. He’s hitting .199 with a .360 on-base percentage and 12 home runs. Tim Pahuta went 3 for 3 with a walk. Rafael Martin struck out all four batters he faced for the save.

Potomac 1, Lynchburg 0: Destin Hood went 3 for 4 and drove in the only run.Adam Olbrychowski allowed no runs in 5 1/3 innings on three hits and two walks, striking out three.

Hagerstown was off.

Williamsport 3, Auburn 2: Caleb Ramsey went 3 for 4.

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 07/20/2011

 
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