The Nationals are said to be open to the idea of top prospect Bryce Harper opening the 2012 season in the major leagues. So while most spring training stats don’t matter, Harper’s numbers just might.
According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, the 19-year-old outfielder went 1-for-3 with a single and two sharp groundouts Saturday in the Nats’ Grapefruit League opener against the Astros.
After the game — a 3-1 loss — Harper addressed the rumblings that he has a chance of breaking camp with the big league club:
“I don’t even think about it when I go out there,” Harper told reporters. “If I play my game and do things right, I’ve got a shot. I’m not going to try to do too much. I’m just going to roll with what I get. … I’m just out there playing. Just trying to get at-bats, trying to see pitches.”
Harper has compiled a .297/.392/.501 batting line, 17 home runs, 24 doubles and 26 stolen bases in 109 career minor league games. He’s been named Baseball America‘s No. 1 prospect two years in a row.
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.
Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.
Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.
Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.