Nationals promote Bryce Harper to Double-A at age 18

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Bryce Harper jumped directly to low Single-A to begin his pro career despite being just 18 years old and after dominating the South Atlantic League for a half-season the Nationals have decided they’ve seen enough from him in the low minors.

Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that Harper has been promoted to Double-A, bypassing high Single-A in the process, which is remarkable in itself because he’s still four months from his 19th birthday and the average Double-A player is 24 years old. Not only will he be the only teenager in the Eastern League, there are only two hitters in the entire league under 21.

More remarkable is that he actually deserves the promotion after hitting .318 with 14 homers, 17 doubles, 44 walks, and 19 steals in 72 games at Hagerstown to rank second among South Atlantic League hitters with a .977 OPS.

Moving up the ladder so quickly increases Harper’s odds of making his MLB debut late this season and, even failing that, he’s definitely on track to be in Washington by mid-2012. So far at least Harper’s performance has matched the incredible hype and the Nationals are being extremely aggressive with the former No. 1 overall pick/eye black enthusiast.

UPDATE: General manager Mike Rizzo said that Harper probably won’t advance past Double-A this season, but we’ll see whether those plans change if he keeps hitting .320 with power there too.

Pirates pitcher Steven Brault sang the National Anthem last night

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Pittsburgh Pirates swingman Steven Brault has a 4.38 ERA in 19 games this year. He also has a music degree and is a professional singer on the side of his baseball gig. He didn’t get into last night’s game against the Brewers as a pitcher, but he did get to use his singing skills.

Specifically, Brault got to sing the National Anthem. And he did an OK job of it too. He’s not Whitney Houston or anything, but he did what all Anthem singers who are not as gifted as Whitney Houston was should do: he kept it straight and businesslike, avoiding unnecessary flourishes:

It’s march, dang it, not a ballad, and it should be treated as such. Unless of course you’re Whitney Houston.