Signing Harper would cap Nats' Draft
Monday is final day for clubs to lock up 2010 Draft picks
WASHINGTON -- Thirteen of the 50 players the Nationals selected in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft remained unsigned on Monday evening. General manager Mike Rizzo hoped to get those players signed by the deadline, which is Monday at midnight ET.
If most of those players are signed, team president Stan Kasten believes history will show that the Nationals had one of their best Drafts ever.
"I think this has a chance to be as good a Draft as we have ever had," Kasten said. "Let see how we finish up. I would like to sign at least a couple of the guys that we still have unsigned. But if we do, it will be really good. I think that is the opinion of the industry -- other professionals."
The biggest name the team is trying to sign is outfielder Bryce Harper, the No. 1 overall pick. Rizzo said that talks between the two parties are amicable. For the second consecutive year, he is dealing with advisor Scott Boras, who also represented right-hander Stephen Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick in 2009.
"I feel confident that we will sign the guys we want to sign out of the Draft," Rizzo said. "It's a two-way street, and we are certainly doing our part. We are engaged in good dialogue and good communication.
"[Harper is] a player we really want in the organization. The talks and the negotiations are always difficult, and they're always unique. This is a unique situation just like Stephen Strasburg [was last year]. We're battling through it. We don't make a big public display of it. Suffice to say, we are working hard at [trying to sign him]."
Harper had the stats to warrant being taken with the No. 1 overall pick. In 2008, Harper had a .599 batting average with 11 home runs and 67 RBIs in 38 games for Las Vegas High School. He followed that up with a .626 batting average, 14 home runs and 55 RBIs the next season.
Playing against a high level of competition and hitting with a wooden bat didn't present much of a challenge to Harper at the College of Southern Nevada. The 17-year-old hit .442 with 29 home runs and 89 RBIs during the 2010 regular season. And in the National Junior College World Series, Harper hit for the cycle, going 6-for-7 in the opener. The next day, he went 2-for-5 in the first game of a doubleheader and 6-for-6 with four home runs in the nightcap.
"You don't get that kind of hype if you are not a great talent," Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "Any time we can get good talent, it's important to the organization. We're trying to get better. He seems like a guy that could make us better."
Strasburg said Harper doesn't need his advice when it comes to signing with the Nationals.
"If he wants to play here, then he is going to play here," Strasburg said. "He doesn't need any advice from anybody. You don't need to convince him otherwise. If he doesn't want to play here, then we don't want him here -- bottom line. We want guys who want to play on this team. It's really important."