06/12/12 8:11 PM ET
Harper has long been student of the game
By Chris Toman / MLB.com
In fact, Nationals manager Davey Johnson says Harper has been studying opponents well before he stepped foot on a Major League diamond.
"He's a heck of a player, plays the game right, plays it hard," Johnson said. "He has a love for the game, more than anything. He's also a student of the game. He probably did more research and studying on big leaguers when he was 15 years old than most guys do their whole time up here."
Johnson has been around the game for a long time, so he would know firsthand how much preparation players put into the game.
Watching video is something Harper has always done, dating back to his high school years. It's different now because of the software players have at their disposal, but for Harper, the process is much simpler.
"Watching games, not even watching video, watching games and seeing what guys are doing," Harper said. "When I watch a baseball game, I try to sit back and watch, but then that passion comes back into me. At a young age it did. Just watching guys and thinking, 'Hey, I might face that guy one day,' or just looking at tendencies to see what they are doing to certain players like lefties like [Robinson] Cano or [Barry] Bonds -- all the power guys who can really swing it. I liked to watch and see what guys are doing, even at a young age.
"[You can] watch video to see what your swing looks like, if there are [pitchers] throwing a 1-0 curveball, what their percentages are. To be able to look at that and go back and see what your swing looked like or where that pitch was. Those kinds of things help everybody out."
Harper said he doesn't watch that much baseball anymore when he is away from the field, so relying on the video is a must. He does watch enough, however, to know how good a couple of the other young players around the league are doing.
"I talk to [Mike] Trout once, twice a week," Harper said about the 20-year-old Angels phenom with whom he played in the Arizona Fall League last year. "He's an unbelievable ballplayer, knows how to play, can't say enough good things about him. Plays the game the right way, plays it hard. You are going to get an All-Star-caliber guy out of him for the next 20 years of his career. I hope all the best for him, he's an unbelievable athlete, and an unbelievable guy also."
As for Brett Lawrie, who Harper didn't really know personally but got to meet during the Nationals' current trip in Toronto, he had nothing but good things to say about the Blue Jays' 22-year-old third baseman.
"A lot of people say that," Harper said, when told he has a lot of similarities to Lawrie. "He plays the game the right way, hard-nosed. Has sick pop, can run, picks it at third. Can't say enough good things about him either. He's unreal. Definitely fun to watch."
Nats needing a push on NL All-Star ballot
TORONTO -- The latest results of the All-Star fan balloting for this year's Midsummer Classic in Kansas City were released Tuesday for the National League, and while no Nationals are among the leaders, the club has plenty of worthy choices.
Adam LaRoche, who is enjoying a tremendous comeback season after being limited to 43 games in 2011 following shoulder surgery, entered play Tuesday fourth in the National League with 42 RBIs and ninth with 29 walks.
The first baseman also has a team-leading 11 home runs and .347 on-base percentage, among qualified Nationals players.
One unlikely candidate could pick up steam as he continues a torrid start to his Major League career.
Rookie of the Year Award candidate Bryce Harper, who is not on the ballot, is a write-in candidate. The 19-year-old is batting .295 with six homers, 18 RBIs, a .381 on-base percentage and a .908 OPS.
Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via your mobile device -- using the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot until Thursday, June 28, at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Another National worthy of a look is Ian Desmond, whose work at the plate and in the field this season has made him one of the game's top shortstops. Desmond's eight home runs and 31 RBIs had him in the second among all NL shortstops in those categories, and his defense has been a big part of the Nationals' early-season success.
Fans can also once again participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby. The 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby -- part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day -- will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, July 9.
The 2012 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on Sunday, July 1, on the 2012 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show, televised nationally on TBS. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2012 All-Star Game Final Vote on MLB.com.
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The 2012 All-Star Game will be played at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on Tuesday, July 10. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 83rd All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and Sirius XM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com or royals.com/asg.
Nats sign second-rounder Renda, 22 others
TORONTO -- The Nationals announced Tuesday that they have signed 23 of the 40 players they selected in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, including second-round pick Anthony Renda.
Renda was selected No. 80 overall out of the University of California-Berkeley.
In his junior year, Renda batted .342 for the Golden Bears and posted a .436 on-base percentage and .484 slugging percentage. The 5-foot-8, 180-pound second baseman also hit five homers and had 27 RBIs.
Renda highlighted the club's signings, as first-round pick Lucas Giolito, from Harvard-Westlake High School in California, has yet to agree to terms with Washington.
Washington also inked some of its other high Draft picks, including outfielder Brandon Miller (fourth round), catcher Spencer Kieboom (fifth round), center fielder Hayden Jennings (sixth round), right-handed pitcher Derek Self (ninth round), catcher Craig Manuel (10th round), right-handed pitcher Brian Rauh (11th round), third baseman Carlos Lopez (12th round), left-handed pitcher Elliott Waterman (13th round) and right fielder Jordan Poole (14th round).
Besides Giolito, the Nationals have not yet signed three other Top 10 picks, including third-rounder Brett Mooneyham, seventh-rounder Robert Benincasa, and eighth-round pick Stephen Perez.
Bernadina will rest hamstring for a few days
TORONTO -- Roger Bernadina, who was forced to leave Monday's series opener against Toronto with a strained right hamstring, had an MRI on Tuesday which revealed no tear.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Bernadina will likely only need a few days off.
"He'll be back soon," Johnson said. "He just tweaked it. He has been swinging the bat well, playing real good."
Bernadina entered play Tuesday hitting .247 with two homers and 12 RBIs.
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.