Bryce Harper made his unofficial pro debut in the Arizona Fall League last year and the former No. 1 overall pick will be back in the AFL again this year.
Better yet he’ll be on the same Scottsdale team as Angels stud prospect Mike Trout, meaning the top two prospects in baseball will be patrolling the same outfield.
Because of his age and inexperience Harper was limited to being on the “tax squad” last time, which meant he could only play twice per week. He’ll have no restrictions this AFL season, although at age 19 he may still be the youngest player in Arizona. Trout is 20.
Harper has been sidelined recently at Double-A with a hamstring injury and struggled before being shut down, hitting .256 with three homers and a .724 OPS in 37 games after destroying Single-A to earn a midseason promotion. Trout hit .326 with a .958 OPS in 91 games at Double-A and is now with the Angels.
The Brewers reportedly signed third baseman Mike Moustakas to a one-year, $10 million contract on Sunday. While the deal is not yet official, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports that the Brewers plan to give Moustakas a look at second base during spring training. If all goes well, he will be the primary second baseman and Travis Shaw will stay at third base.
The initial thought was that Moustakas would simply take over at third base for the more versatile Shaw. Moustakas has spent 8,035 of his career defensive innings at third base, 35 innings at first base, and none at second. In fact, he has never played second base as a pro player. Shaw, meanwhile, has spent 268 of his 4,073 1/3 defensive innings in the majors at second base and played there as recently as October.
This is certainly an interesting wrinkle to signing Moustakas, who is a decent third baseman. He was victimized by another slow free agent market, not signing until March last year on a $6.5 million deal with a $15 million mutual option for this season. That option was declined, obviously, and he ended up signing for $5 million cheaper here in February as the Brewers waited him out. Notably, Moustakas did not have qualifying offer compensation attached to him this time around.
Last season, between the Royals and Brewers, the 30-year-old Moustakas hit .251/.315/.459 with 28 home runs and 95 RBI in 635 plate appearances.