Nobody has cared about an instructional league game this much since, well, Stephen Strasburg last October. Oh well, here goes.
Nationals top prospect Bryce Harper made his unofficial pro debut earlier today, going 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com.
Harper struck out swinging on both occasions, according to Gonzalez, being caught out in front on a pair of off-speed pitches. The teenage hitting sensation started the game in right field, but sat down after five innings. Harper took the experience of his first pro game in stride, however.
“When you haven’t seen pitching for five months, it’s a little hard.”
“Everybody gets their Spring Training. This is mine.”
Little do the Nationals know, his now absent streaking eye black is actually the source of his super powers.
The instructional league schedule, which consists of 16 games, wraps up on October 12. According to Gonzalez, the Nationals want to see how Harper fares in his current “controlled environment” before they decide whether to send him to the prospect-rich Arizona Fall League. For entertainment’s sake, I hope he’s included.
It was an unfortunate night on the base paths for future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre in the A’s-Rangers game. First because of, you guessed it, The Man, and second because of the Fates and maybe Father Time.
As far as The Man goes, someplace in the rule book it says that, after a foul ball, the ball is dead until pitcher has the new ball and is ready to pitch. Beltre was counting on people either not knowing that rule or acknowledging that it’s a lame rule which kills the chances for fun. He was standing on first base when Jurickson Profar fouled one off. After the ump handed Jonathan Lucroy a new ball, Lucroy tossed it back wildly to the pitcher and . . . Beltre just took the hell off, ending up on third.
It’s the third highlight in this three-part highlight reel:
Here it is in GIF form:
I think he should’ve been award third base on chutzpah alone, but no one asks me about such things.
Less fun was when Beltre singled in the bottom of the eighth. It would’ve been a double — he hit a line drive to right-center that one-hopped the wall — but he just barely got to first, having strained his left hamstring running down the line, forcing him out of the game.
Beltre will be evaluated today, but this will almost certainly mean a trip to the DL for the 39-year-old. He’s the third Opening Day infielder the Rangers have lost to injury so far on the young season.