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Fantasy Baseball 2011: Bryce Harper Up in 2012?

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I was checking out some of the other SB Nation baseball sites on Saturday afternoon, and came across the Federal Baseball post on Bryce Harper's future role in the Nationals outfield. In the post, there are several links, one of which was a link to Thomas Boswell's Washington Post article titled "Ownership, GM Finally on Same Page".

In the article, Boswell discusses the possibility that Harper, along with Stephen Strasburg, will be ready in 2012. 2012? Really? He links the offseason signing of Jayson Werth to how quickly Harper arrives and opines that the faster Harper arrives, the better the Werth contract may look.

More after the jump:

Now Harper may force the Nationals hand in his eventual promotion, but if the thought is to push him quickly to make the Werth contract look better, I am not a fan. Here is more from Boswell:

The Nats' decision to make a major free agent splash this winter, rather than next, is probably connected to Harper's strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. Only the rare Mickey Mantle or Ken Griffey Jr., has proved to be big league ready at age 19. But the Nats have opened the door for the possibility.

Then again, maybe Harper will be ready in 2012. Playing twice a week in the AFL, Harper hit .343-.410-.629 with a HR, 7 RBIs and an 11-4 K/BB rate in 35 ABs. Prior to that, Harper hit .319-.407-.702  with 4 HRs and 12 RBIs in the Florida Instructional League.

Prior to the 2010 MLB Rule 4 draft, Harper played junior college ball at the College of Southern Nevada, and went off. He hit .443 with 31 HRs, 98 RBIs, 20 SBs, and 23 doubles in just 66 games as a 17 year old against much older competition. 

Harper will turn 19 on October 16, 2011, so if Boswell is right and he is big league ready, that would mean he would be up in 2012. I am surprised at the thought of Harper manning an outfield spot in Washington at the beginning of 2012 and was of the belief that Harper could be up in the middle of 2012 at the earliest, but starting the 2012 season in the big leagues is faster than I had projected. 

Harper will be in big league camp this spring training, so the world will see how he fares in his first shot at big league pitching. How he fares will give fantasy owners an idea how successful he will be in the minors. And should he hit well, the hype machine will be in full gear, probably with talk that he could be up in 2011. Time will tell, but giving Harper at least a full year in the minors is the smart decision. Then again, he is not lacking confidence.

Harper is a no-brainer pick in keeper leagues, but those in redraft leagues can let another owner reach and draft Harper this year. But, it should surprise no one if Harper is up in 2012. I have the #1 pick in the minor league draft of an NL-only league this year, having to give up a $5 Ike Davis to acquire him. I am hoping Harper makes me look good dealing a cheap Davis for him.