Rizzo: Harper 'not ready to play in big leagues'

Rizzo: Harper 'not ready to play in big leagues'

NEW YORK -- When he was sent to Minor League camp during Spring Training, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper said he would be in the big leagues by July. However, general manager Mike Rizzo told the local media Wednesday that Harper will not play in the Majors this year.

Harper, the first overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, is currently playing for Class A Hagerstown. In 36 games, Harper is hitting .366 with nine home runs and 31 RBIs. He is playing mostly right field, though he has seen action in center field and will see time in left field soon, according to Rizzo.

If he does get promoted, Harper most likely will be headed to Class A Potomac. There isn't a timetable on when the promotion will happen.

"We feel that his development is not ready to play in the big leagues. The moment he is ready, and when we believe he is ready, he'll be in the big leagues," Rizzo said about Harper. "The next step is the most important decision we have to make. Once he has graduated from that step, we'll take it to the next level."

In order to get the promotion to the next level, Harper must continue to show that he can make adjustments against left-handed pitching, and improve his defensive and baserunning skills.

"He is in the process of working on it and he is doing great," Rizzo said. "He is at the point where he is really playing well there. I think a lot of his development stems on the defensive side in the outfield."