Coverage includes live interviews with Harper, Nationals owner Stan Kasten and Nationals GM Mike Rizzo
Secaucus, NJ, June 7, 2010 – Quotes and reaction to the Washington Nationals selection of Bryce Harper as its number-one overall Draft pick are available from MLB Network’s telecast of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Quotes are available from Harper, Nationals owner Stan Kasten, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and MLB Network’s Peter Gammons, John Hart and Harold Reynolds:
interview with Bryce Harper:
On being the number-one overall Draft pick:
It’s what I’ve wanted since I was 7-years old and it’s been a lot of fun going through it and I’m just trying to enjoy it right now with the family.
On making the jump from high school to junior college baseball:
It was pretty difficult in the beginning. They [family, friends and coaches] were all there for me and they all made it a lot easier for me. I had guys in my conference that came after me and they just made it a lot of fun and I love playing for the College of Southern Nevada.
On being drafted by the Nationals as an outfielder:
I can get better out there. Anywhere they need me, I’ll play. I’ll play third, I’ll play outfield, I’ll play center. Anywhere they need me, I’m there and I just want to make it and we’ll see what happens when I get there.
On adjusting to using a wooden bat:
When I was younger, a guy named Eddie Williams came and hit with me and he told me I needed to put a wood bat in my hand and start swinging from a young age and I think I was about 7- or 8-years of age when I started swinging my first wood. … I think that made it even easier, growing up and swinging wood my whole life and that just made it a lot easier going into college.
ON BRYCE HARPER AS THE NUMBER-ONE OVERALL DRAFT PICK:
Stan Kasten, owner, Washington Nationals:
When we came here and we got the team four years ago, we said we’re going to build it the right way, get it right the first time and that is building through scouting and player development. And to have tomorrow night [2009 Draft pick Stephen Strasburg’s Major League debut] be a product of our scouting and player development, to have the excitement that we’re looking forward to tonight, it’s another great step for scouting and player development together with a lot of other good things that have happened to us over the last four years. It’s all coming together. We think by the end of this year, we really will have turned the corner toward being a competitive team, largely on the strength again of our scouting and player development.
Mike Rizzo, GM, Washington Nationals:
We decided shortly after I saw him [that he was the number-one choice]. I spent three days there in Las Vegas, I saw him play batting practice and four games – two in right field, two behind the plate – and after that we got together with my two senior guys and we decided to commit to take Bryce at that time. [He has] a fluid swing with plus-plus bat speed and good balance at the plate, a solid approach between the lines, 110-mph at all times. His other tools are solid: he’s a solid-average runner with a plus-plus arm. He’s got great athletic skills and he’s going to be a big man when he grows into that body.
John Hart, MLB Network analyst:
It’s all about the bat. These guys need position players. Washington also has a young catcher, [Derek] Norris, that is waiting in the wings. I think that they feel that this bat is going to come quick and they don’t want to go through all of the trials that you’re going to have to do with a catcher.
Peter Gammons, MLB Network insider:
I thought he was an outfielder for six weeks. This is the way I understood it all along. They [the Nationals] don’t want to risk the injury. They don’t want to take away from the bat in any way. He is a tremendous athlete, he’s a Larry Walker-kind of athlete. You take that immense power, as one general manager said to me, he is a lock for 500 home runs, you don’t put that behind the plate.
Harold Reynolds, MLB Network analyst:
I just thought that as a catcher, he goes to a whole other level. He played 36 games as a catcher; 14 in right field. Center field is a shocker … If you’re going to take a number-one pick and spend the kind of money they’re going to have to, you better hope he has some versatility.