Harper adding to legend in JuCo World Series

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Bryce Harper2.jpgThis is getting absolutely ridiculous.

Bryce Harper, who the Nationals are thought to be targeting with their No. 1 pick this June, hit for the cycle on Friday in the semifinals of the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) World Series.  On Saturday he outdid himself, finishing 6-for-6 with 10 RBI and four home runs as the College of Southern Nevada advanced to the NJCAA World Series final.

Harper, a 17-year-old catcher, continues to amaze at the plate and is one of the most intriguing position players to ever enter the MLB draft.  Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post ran an excellent profile about the kid last weekend and the great Jim Callis of Baseball America is also buying into the hype.

The Nats haven’t made anything official, but it’s fairly safe to assume that they like Harper and will grab him first overall in next month’s first-year player draft.  The only issue now is signability, because Harper is expected to demand a contract greater than the record-breaking $15.67 million deal that was struck with Stephen Strasburg last summer.  Lofty expectations?  Sure.  But it’s probably worth noting that Harper’s contract discussions will be under the supervision of super-agent Scott Boras.

Steven Souza Jr. exits game after injuring his hand on a hit by pitch

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Rays’ right fielder Steven Souza Jr. left Saturday’s game after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch from Blue Jays’ right-hander Joe Biagini in the seventh inning. The pitch appeared to hit the top of Souza Jr.’s hand, causing the outfielder to crumple at the plate and requiring assistance from assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker as he exited the field. Postgame reports from the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin revealed that Souza Jr. sustained a left hand contusion and is scheduled to undergo further evaluation on Sunday.

While the diagnosis isn’t as bad as it could be, it’s still a tough break for the right fielder, who missed 40 days of the 2015 season after sustaining a fracture in his left hand on another hit by pitch. The team has yet to announce any concrete timetable for Souza Jr.’s return, though manager Kevin Cash indicated that they’ll be taking things day to day for the time being.

Souza Jr. is batting .326/.398/.543 with four home runs and 17 RBI through 104 PA in 2017. He went 1-for-2 with a base hit and a walk prior to his departure during Saturday’s 4-1 loss.

Video: Brett Gardner goes deep for his first and second home runs of 2017

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It’s been a slow start to the season for Yankees’ outfielder Brett Gardner, who entered Saturday’s matinee against the Orioles with a .188/.316/.234 batting line, three doubles and five stolen bases in his first 76 PA of the year. That all changed in the first inning of Saturday’s game, when Gardner skied a leadoff home run to right field:

Orioles’ right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez couldn’t find his footing against the Yankees in the second inning, either. Gardner returned for his second home run of the season, a three-run shot to lift New York 5-0 over Baltimore:

Measured at 411 feet in the right field bullpen, the left fielder’s blast marked the seventh home run hit by a Yankee this series. According to the club’s PR department, it’s also the first multi-home run game Gardner has recorded since September 2015. The Yankees currently lead the Orioles 7-0 through four innings.