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Harper staying in minors all year, Rizzo says

The Sports Xchange
Harper staying in minors all year, Rizzo says · Roster Report · Notes, Quotes

As well as Bryce Harper might play in his first season of professional ball -- and he certainly has been impressive so far -- the 18-year-old's first day in the major leagues won't come in 2011.

That's been the common belief all season, but general manager Mike Rizzo made that even more clear on Wednesday in an interview with ESPN Radio 980 in Washington. Rizzo said he's decided Harper won't play in the majors this season, saying last year's No. 1 overall pick won't be ready for it yet.

"It's not going to happen, because he's not ready for that to happen. He's got to learn the nuances of the game of baseball," Rizzo said. "We certainly don't want to push him to a level where he's overmatched and struggles even for a short period of time. We're not going to put him in a place where he has a chance to fail until he's 100 percent ready at that level."

Harper is hitting .366 with nine homers in 36 games at Class A Hagerstown (Md.), but the Nationals still feel he has work to do to get better on defense. He will get time in left field and center field in the next few weeks, and will likely move up to Class A Potomac (Woodbridge, Va.) this summer.

"This is a player that needs to touch every level of the minor league system -- A-ball, Double-A, Triple-A and the big leagues," Rizzo said. "He's going to do some Arizona Fall League action. Believe me, I have a specific plan in my mind for Bryce Harper."

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