Bryce Harper had a big Triple-A debut, going 2-for-4 with a stolen base, but then the 19-year-old top prospect went into a prolonged slump that left him hitting around .200 with a .600 OPS.
That also included zero homers in 16 total games, but Harper finally went deep yesterday for the first time at Triple-A, smacking a solo shot off Mets prospect Jeurys Familia in his 61st at-bat of the season.
Harper finished last season hitting .256 with a .724 OPS in 37 games at Double-A and is now hitting .234 with a .675 OPS in 17 games at Triple-A, which shows how silly any calls were for the Nationals to rush him to the majors already.
He remains an elite prospect, perhaps the best in baseball, but 19 is still 19 and now that the Nationals are winning hopefully Harper’s timetable won’t be hurried by anything other than his performance.
The Mets told Jay Bruce that the club plans on having him open the season as the everyday right fielder, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports. This comes as no surprise after the Mets failed to get any bites after dangling Bruce as a trade chip. The Mets reportedly wanted a pair of prospects in exchange for Bruce.
With Bruce in right, Yoenis Cespedes back in left, and Curtis Granderson in center, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out. He’ll either warm the bench or head back to Triple-A Las Vegas for regular at-bats.
Bruce, who turns 30 years old in April, had a rough final two months of the 2016 season after joining the Mets in a trade from the Reds. He hit a paltry .219/.294/.391 with eight home runs and 19 RBI in 187 plate appearances. Bruce, apparently, wanted to go anywhere but in New York.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have inked outfielder Eric Young, Jr. to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Young, 31, played in just six games and logged one plate appearance in the majors this past season with the Yankees. He last played regularly in 2014. While Young doesn’t do much with the bat, he could provide value as a pinch-runner. He also offers versatility, having played all three outfield positions along with second base.
The Angels have Ben Revere as their fourth outfielder and Jefry Marte behind him, so Young would need to have a very impressive showing in spring training to find a spot on the Angels’ roster.