Lost in Bryce Harper’s latest foray into villainy is that the Nationals drafted his older brother yesterday, using their 30th-round pick on South Carolina left-hander Bryan Harper (not to be confused with the Brian Harper who spelled his name without a Y and was a really good player).
This is actually the second time the Nationals have drafted Bryan Harper. They also picked him in the 31st round out of high school in 2008, but didn’t sign him. He went on to play with younger brother Bryce at College of Southern Nevada and then transferred to South Carolina this year.
Bryce naturally thinks Bryan is really good:
He’s one of the most dominating left-handed pitchers I’ve seen in my life. My brother’s pretty good and I wouldn’t say it if he wasn’t.
Perhaps, but Bryan Harper has a 5.40 ERA and 18/17 K/BB ratio as a reliever this season. For now at least Bryce should probably stick to hitting rather than scouting.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post speculates that the Nationals might send Bryan Harper to Single-A to play with Bryce. If they can sign him, of course. The 6-foot-5 southpaw still has one more season of eligibility left and could opt to return to school.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.
I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:
Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.
Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.
I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.
Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.