Sorry about that title. I couldn’t resist.
It’s still early in the college season, so early that the major league season hasn’t even started. However, the top of the draft may be starting to shape up, with 17 year old phenom Bryce Harper looking like the real deal at the College of Southern Nevada. Harper capped off a double header today with a 7-for-8 line, and two homers, one in each game. He is now hitting for a .408/.506/.803 line, and yes, that’s with a wooden bat.
Granted, there are still questions about Harper. How would he do against a level higher than the JuCo level? How will he fare in pressure situations, a title that doesn’t really fit with Scenic West Athletic Conference regular season match-ups? One big question is starting to be answered, and that’s how Harper would fare at this level. He is exceeding all expectations so far, with a homer every 11.83 at-bats, and a 1.409 OPS, again, with wooden bats.
Harper probably won’t be in the majors until 2014 at the earliest, and that’s assuming he even makes it to the majors. On an optimistic path, the Pirates could have a team of Harper, Pedro Alvarez, and Andrew McCutchen together for at least two years, and maybe more if the Pirates sign McCutchen to an extension and buy out some free agent years.
All of this is optimistic, not in the way of assuming Harper makes it to the majors, but in assuming that Harper makes it past the Washington Nationals. If the Nationals take Harper, which is very possible, then the Pirates still have some fallback options, although none as promising as Harper. Outside of the pitchers, the best hitter after Harper is another Bryce: Bryce Brentz. I’ve slowly been warming to Brentz, partly because he’s a hitting machine, but also because he seems to have found his power stroke, with a homer in his last two games. With Christian Colon struggling, and currently below the Mendoza line, Brentz could be the top option available if the Pirates go the route of a college hitter.
Of course, my preference would be a pitcher, and with Anthony Ranaudo injured, that pitcher would be one of Drew Pomeranz or Deck McGuire, and maybe Jameson Taillon, depending on how he fares this season at the high school level, although I think the chances of the Pirates taking a high school arm are slim to none. Regardless of the choice, it’s starting to look like our pre-season expectations are starting to take shape, and the ideal choice would be Bryce Harper, that is, if the Pirates are lucky enough to see him fall in to their laps.