The Nationals announced (via Twitter) that the team has recalled top prospect Bryce Harper from Triple-A Syracuse. Harper will join the team in Los Angeles and will make his big league debut against the Dodgers tomorrow.
Today, the Nationals also placed their start third baseman, Ryan Zimmerman, on the 15-day Disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. Harper will fill Ryan Zimmerman’s spot on the active roster.
With the team’s closer, Drew Storen, and two most potent bats in Zimmerman and Michael Morse now on the disabled list with serious injuries, the Nationals were forced to promote the nineteen-year-old to the Major Leagues earlier than they’d prefer. Before the regular season started, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo answered Harper’s pretentious pleas for a Major League roster spot by prescribing the teenager at least 250-300 at bats of Triple-A baseball before a promotion. Just 72 at bats in to the season however, plans changed, and Harper has put his Syracuse Chiefs career on hold in favor of making one of history’s most hyped MLB debuts.
While the Nationals are hoping he can give the team’s offense a boost, Harper wasn’t exactly knocking the cover off the ball in Syracuse. Through twenty games he was batting just .250/.333/.375. His bat has started to heat up lately though, collecting his first homerun of the season and posting an .840 OPS through his last ten games.
Harper’s arbitration/free agency clock will start ticking with the promotion. As outlined by MLBTradeRumors.com’s Ben Nicholson-Smith last week, the Nationals waited long enough to promote him to extend team control through 2018. Even if he become’s a super-two player, Harper won’t be eligible fo arbitration until after 2014.
Though the Nationals currently sit atop the NL East and sport the league’s best record (14-5), their success is primarily attributed to their knock-out pitching staff. Even with a healthy Ryan Zimmerman, the lineup has scored just 69 runs, the 10th best total in the National League.
Harper is a spectacular talent, no doubt about it, but there’s no telling how valuable he’ll be at age-nineteen. Other recent teenage phenoms like Justin Upton (2007), BJ Upton (2004), Andruw Jones (1996) and Alex Rodriguez (1994) who were thrown in to the fire as the MLB’s youngest player at the time of their debuts, developed in to star-level ballplayers. Of that group, however, only BJ Upton posted a batting average above .220 in his first season.