Crossposted at Sports Grid
For the second straight year, the Nationals carried the first overall pick in the MLB Entry Draft. Once again, there was an excellent, pro-level prospect sitting there for the taking: Bryce Harper, a kid profiled by Sports Illustrated back almost two years ago about his future. Sure, Jason Heyward was a hyped rookie, but Harper is up there with Ken Griffey, Jr. in terms of expectations.
There’s one other similarity to last year’s hype around a Nationals draftee: Harper has yet to sign on the dotted line, and the deadline for drafted players to sign with their respective teams is tonight at midnight. Given the experience, who better to weigh in on a current first pick holdout than last year’s first pick. Reporters questioned Strasburg on the topic at the presser following his start against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday, and he didn’t try too hard to veil his feelings:
“If he wants to play here, then he is going to play here,” Strasburg said. “He doesn’t need any advice from anybody. You don’t need to convince him otherwise. If he doesn’t want to play here, then we don’t want him here — bottom line. We want guys who want to play on this team. It’s really important.”
If this is the one statement that gets Harper over the edge and into the clubhouse, Nationals fans could be celebrating like its Strasmas even more often. Who knows: maybe the 2011 Nats might stand a chance.