For Nationals prospect Bryce Harper, adversity has not been a common life theme.
The Las Vegas native was drafted first overall in last summer’s MLB Amateur Draft at the age of 17 and inked a seven-year, $9.9 million major league contract in August. Then this winter, without an ounce of professional experience to his name, Harper was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the entire game by Baseball America.
Harper is going to hit speed bumps. He’s human, he’s incredibly young, and baseball isn’t an easy sport for anyone. But that theme of everything-gone-right continued on Thursday evening for the youngster.
According to the Associated Press, via NBCSports.com, Harper went 2-for-4 with an RBI tonight in his debut for Single-A Hagerstown. It was his first game of professional ball.
He smacked a run-scoring single to shallow center field in his first pro plate appearance and then bunted his way on in his next at-bat. Harper was retired in his final two looks but Hagerstown pulled out a 3-2 victory.
The 18-year-old should have no trouble posting massive numbers at the low level of minor league baseball. If things go right, he could be in consideration for a big league roster spot by the summer of 2012.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.