Getting to know hype machine Bryce Harper

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Bryce Harper cover small.jpgWant 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.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.

President Obama pardons Willie McCovey

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 06:  San Francisco Giants legend Willie McCovey  waves to the crowd while seating between Jeff Kent (L) and Willie Mays during a ceremony honoring Buster Posey for winning the 2012 National League MVP before the Giants game against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park on April 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.

Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.

President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.