Want to get better acquainted with 17-year-old catcher Bryce Harper before he’s (almost certainly) drafted No. 1 overall by the Nationals this June? Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post wrote a great piece about him this afternoon, collecting opinions about the prodigy’s attitude and personality from several different sources. It’s worth reading the entire article, but here are some quick Harper facts:
- He can throw a 96 MPH fastball.
- He’s capable of playing a variety of positions, but really wants to catch as a professional.
- His father helped build the Las Vegas Strip, laying rebar for 27 years.
- Harper led the National Junior College Athletic Association with 23 homers, 68 RBI, a .917 slugging percentage and 71 runs this year.
- The next-highest player in the conference had 11 home runs.
- Harper scored a 4.0 GPA in the fall at the College of Southern Nevada.
- There are only 22 days until the draft.
Harper undoubtedly has a swagger about him. He wipes his face with eye black before every game and has a whole routine as he steps into the batter’s box that seems a little LeBron James-like. But he is most definitely a competitor and an incredible talent with a better-than-expected background.
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez has wasted no time acclimating himself to major league competition. Since getting called back up on August 3, Sanchez has smacked nine homers and driven in 16 runs in a span of 18 games. In fact, since August 3, no hitter has homered more than Sanchez and only Charlie Blackmon and Brian Dozier have matched him, Katie Sharp of River Ave Blues notes.
One of those homers came in Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Mariners at Safeco Field. It was a first-inning blast off of Hisashi Iwakuma, quickly giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead. They would go on to win 5-0. Sanchez finished 2-for-3 with a pair of intentional walks, a double, and the homer.
Some more fun facts about Sanchez, courtesy Sharp:
- Sanchez is the first Yankee in club history with nine home runs in his first 21 career games [Link]
- Sanchez is the third American League player in the last 100 years to hit at least nine home runs in his first 21 career games, joining George Scott and Alvin Davis [Link]
- Sanchez and Joe DiMaggio are the only Yankees with 15 or more extra-base hits in their first 21 career games [Link]
Sanchez was considered the fifth-best prospect in the Yankees’ minor league system, according to MLB Pipeline. In the majors, he’s carrying a .389/.450/.847 triple-slash line in 79 plate appearances. He has also thrown out five of seven would-be base-stealers.
American swimmer Katie Ledecky, fresh off of winning four gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janiero, Brazil, was in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday night to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Nationals’ game against the Orioles.
As NHL.com’s Katie Brown notes, Ledecky’s favorite player is Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, who was on the field with her. So what did she make him do? Hold all of her medals while she threw out the first pitch.
Harper has his fair share of hardware, including a Rookie of the Year Award and an MVP Award, but no gold medals. For shame.