Is it a lock that the Nats will draft Harper?

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Bryce Harper cover small.jpgDave Shenin of the Washington Post doesn’t think so, and offers several
reasons why what everyone things to be a foregone conclusion is not
necessarily forgone.

Among the reasons: Harper hasn’t “separated himself” from the pack like
Strasburg did; He may not stick at catcher, thus diminishing his value;
He’s a Boras client, thus inflating his price; his recent comments
about “second guessing” his fast track to the draft may make people
question his makeup; the Nats have a catching prospect already, in the
form of Derek Norris — he doesn’t mention Jesus Flores, but he’s worth
noting too; and the Nats may contend in 2011, so they might want a more
finished product than Harper.

Those are mostly decent points, though each has a counterargument or two. The one about makeup can go either way,
of course, in that his decision to skip two years of high school, in my
mind at least, raises just as many questions about his maturity and
mental preparedness as his statements showing a lack of confidence now
that he has done so. I’m also not terribly worried about whether he’ll
stick at catcher given that he appears to have a bat that is simply
awesome, not just awesome for a catcher.  Not as valuable at, say,
right field as he is behind the plate, but his bat will play anywhere.

The biggest problem, Shenin notes, is that no other great first round
option has emerged yet.  Some people think differently, and point to
high school pitcher Jameson Taillon, but a high school pitcher, even a
great one, is farther away from the big league level than a hitter like
Harper, so his pluses work against some of the same considerations
Shenin mentions above.

And ultimately Shenin admits that he may be over thinking things.  I think he may be right.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.