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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nationals Journal

Harper ranked No. 3 prospect in baseball

The Nationals' farm system at the moment can be divided between Bryce Harper and everyone else, a fact reiterated by Tuesday night's MLB.com countdown of baseball's top 50 prospects. Harper, the 18-year-old outfielder picked first overall in last year's draft, was ranked the No. 3 prospect, the only Nationals player on the list.

Harper finished behind only Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout and Tampa Bay Rays right-handed starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson.

Harper, who skipped his senior year of high school in order to enroll in junior college and enter the draft early, received his first professional experience this autumn in the Arizona Fall League, where he became the second-youngest player in the league's history. Playing twice a week as part of the Scottsdale Scorpions' taxi squad, Harper went 12 for 35 (.343) with three doubles, two triples, one home run, four walks and 11 strikeouts.

Harper will participate in the Nationals' major league camp during spring training. Barring a surprise, he will likely begin this season with Class A Hagerstown. His inclusion in the fall league was a sign that the Nationals will not hold back Harper as he develops in the minor leagues, so his success level will determine how far he progresses in the Nationals' system.

- Adam Kilgore

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