The Washington Nationals have decided to demote future phenom Bryce Harper to their Triple A affiliate in Syracuse so that he can work on his defensive game in center field. Harper, who is still just 19-years-old, will begin the 2012 MLB season in the minor leagues, but is expected to get the call up at some point after honing his skills in the outfield.
Harper was a catcher throughout his amateur career, but with the offensive skills that he possesses, the Nationals want to make sure they protect their investment but lessening his injury odds by removing him from behind the plate. They don’t want to see Harper go down the same road as Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants.
Granted, there are concerns that a player can get hurt at any point while playing any position, but catchers suffer the most wear and tear, even when they are not being slid into at the plate. The Nationals are doing with Harper what other teams have done with the likes of Jesus Montero, Joe Mauer and other great offensive catchers.
Harper played right field predominantly throughout Spring Training for Washington, but they would prefer to make him into a center fielder, as they are thin at that position. Having signed Jayson Werth to a massive contract prior to last season, he will be manning right field for the foreseeable future in D.C, regardless of whether he lives up to his deal or not.
Everyone still says that Harper will be a can’t miss prospect, and he is still viewed as the No. 1 overall minor league player entering 2012. During Spring Training for the Nationals, Harper went 8-for-28 (.286) in the Grapefruit League. It is unknown when exactly the team plans on calling him up, but it may not be long, depending on which way the upcoming season goes for the Nationals.