Brian Broderick, the Rule 5 draft pick who struck out Bryce Harper
Saturday, February 26, 2011; 3:41 PM
On Nov. 3 in Surprise, Ariz., Brian Broderick, the 652nd selection of the 2007 baseball draft, stood on the mound, wearing his Cardinals uniform, and knew precisely who the player walking toward the plate was: Bryce Harper, the first overall pick of the 2010 baseball draft. "Oh, yeah," Broderick said. "How could you not? Just like the attention he was getting and everything. You can't look at it that way. Just because he's the No. 1 overall pick, you can't look at him any different than a 12th-round guy." And so Broderick pitched how he always does, pumping strikes, mostly with a high-80s or low-90s sinker. Broderick does not strike out many hitters; in fact, during this Arizona Fall League start, he would only strike out one batter. That batter was Bryce Harper. "It felt like any other normal strikeout," Broderick said. "There wasn't anything extravagant about it." Broderick faced Harper once more in the game, and Harper stunned him by laying down a bunt single. "Very surprised," Broderick said. After that, it seemed like Broderick, 25 and playing at Class AA, and Harper, 18 and ready to conquer the baseball world, were headed in different directions. But they've already met again this spring, at Nationals major league camp. The Cardinals did not protect Broderick in the Rule 5 draft, and the Nationals chose him in the second round, which added him to the Nationals' 40-man roster. Twice this week, when Broderick threw live batting practice, Harper stepped into the cage. Both times, he made Harper swing-and-miss at least once. Broderick is a lanky, 6-foot-6 right-hander who relies on groundballs and control. Last year, at Class AA Springfield, Broderick went 11-2 with a 2.77 ERA. He struck out just 4.9 batters per nine innings but walked 1.3, the fourth-best rate in the Texas League. "He's got good stuff," said Nationals minor league catcher Derek Norris, who watched Broderick in the Fall League and caught him this week. Broderick is excited to be with the Nationals, on a 40-man roster for the first time in his career. The most likely scenario this spring would be Broderick not making the 25-man roster and the Nationals making a minor trade with the Cardinals in order to keep him. Before he left the organization, Broderick took one final lesson from the Cardinals. With Springfield, his pitching coach was former major leaguer Dennis Martinez. His message was constant. "Be aggressive," Broderick recalled. "Be a bulldog on the mound. Don't care who's up to bat. Just go about it the same way you always would."