Catching up with Bryce Harper

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Bryce Harper cover small.jpgPhenom Bryce Harper has been on a parental-imposed media blackout for much of the winter. He emerges a bit today with a profile in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  It’s a good read if for no other reason than it reminds you that Harper is painfully, painfully young to be going through what he’s been going through since that Sports Illustrated cover hit last summer:

“I had a transition from high
school to college, and it was pretty hard at the beginning. I was
second-guessing myself and thinking maybe I shouldn’t have done this,”
Harper said Tuesday.

“There were times when I was in my room or with my family or
something, and it was pretty hard because everybody was out there
saying stuff. I can’t live up to all the hype and everything like that.”

Harper, an honor student in high school, earned his GED test
credentials and was excelling at CSN while recording a 4.0 grade-point
average. But he was failing for the first time in baseball, compiling
too many 0-for-4 days at practice and striking out when he was
accustomed to hitting home runs.

“It really hurt me, and I was thinking maybe this isn’t for me,” he said, pausing. “But I put that aside.”

He’s doing better now, settling into a groove and leading his JC team in homers and RBIs. A JC team that is ranked number one in the nation.  Oh, and he has a hilarious sense of humor too:

Harper, being advised by agent
Scott Boras, said it’s not a foregone conclusion that he will enter
June’s major league draft, which could net him a signing bonus in the
neighborhood of $10 million.

Sure it isn’t a foregone conclusion. His parents didn’t rob him of two years of high school and cram him into junior college because they wanted to circumvent the draft rules for high schoolers. They were simply worried he couldn’t get a prom date if he stayed in high school. That’s the ticket.

Report: Yankees, Reds finalizing trade for Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray
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Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.

According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.

Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.