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 Tampa Bay Rays were reported this week to be “open for business” as far as trades go. Normally that means nothing happens until late June or something. Seems the Rays are getting right down to it, though, as they’ve just traded closer Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span to the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners, who have played some outstanding ball lately thanks to some outstanding starting pitching, are looking to bolster other areas as they make a push in the AL West. They will likely slot Colome into a setup role in front of closer Edwin Diaz. Colome has saved 11 games for the Rays, with a 4.15 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 23/8 in 21.2 innings. Span will take over center field, allowing Dee Gordon to, eventually anyway, once he recovers from a fractured toe, cover for the suspended Robinson Cano at second base full time and, if the M’s make the playoffs, in the postseason given that Cano will be ineligible for any October play due to his suspension. Span is hitting .238/.364/.385 with four homers and six stolen bases on the season.
Two players are going back to the Rays: righties Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero. Moore was the Mariners’ second round pick in 2015 and made his big league debut last season, pitching 59 innings in 2018 but back in the minors so far in 2018. Romero was a 15th rounder for Seattle in 2017 and is currently plying his trade in A-ball.
The Rays, as expected, are using the 2018 season to acquire prospects. The Mariners, who are unexpectedly strong in the early going, are trying to go for it even harder. Quite a big trade for late May.