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Double-A coach in awe of Harper's talent

Double-A coach in awe of Harper's talent

Double-A coach in awe of Harper's talent
PHOENIX -- When Double-A Harrisburg skipper Tony Beasley found out early last week that he was going to manage outfielder Bryce Harper, the Nationals' top prospect, this thought came to his mind:

Harper played for Class A Hagerstown and dominated the Sally League. Could he have similar success in the Eastern League? After all, Beasley thought, Harper is 18 years old and may have a lot to learn.

To the surprise of Beasley, he didn't find any flaws in Harper's game -- so far. In four games, Harper is 5-for-14 (.357) with two RBIs. Harper, however, noticed that the games in the Eastern League are a lot quicker than in Hagerstown.

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"We are not out there for 3 1/2 hours. We are getting done in two hours and 15 minutes," Harper said. "It's unbelievable. It's awesome. I'm just excited to be out there. I'm happy to be on the team that I am. We are in first place right now. I hope we keep rolling."


For the season, Harper is living up to the hype that made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. He is hitting a combined .320 with 14 home runs and 48 RBIs.

"Bryce has been outstanding," said Beasley, who was one of the U.S. coaches at the XM Futures Game on Sunday. "He took right in with our clubhouse. As far as playing the game, there has been no concerns. He has had tremendous at-bats. I thought he would have a tough time recognizing certain pitches. I've been wrong, because the kid has recognized breaking balls. He makes adjustments during at-bats. He is very advanced offensively."

While playing for Hagerstown, Harper was playing right and center field. He is now playing left field for Harrisburg and has looked like he has played the position for years.

"He has been absolutely outstanding with his reads," Beasley said. "I have to give [outfield coordinator] Tony Tarasco credit. Bryce has had early work in left field and he has taken to it quickly. He is an athlete. He does a lot of things naturally."

To avoid mistakes in the future, Beasley has 15-minute sessions with Harper each day. They talk baseball or anything that concerns the left-handed-hitting Harper.

"I have Beasley as a manager. He is a great guy," Harper said. "He has made everything easy, he has made the transition easy. It really hasn't been that hard. We talk about everyday life -- how I'm feeling that day, what I had for dinner last night. I'm always trying to learn something new every day. I'm just trying to go out there and play good."

Harper didn't play well in the Futures Game, though, going 0-for-4 for the U.S. team in a 6-4 win over the World team. Harper struck out in the first inning, and in the third and sixth, he grounded out to first base. In the eighth inning, he struck out for the second time in the game.

"You are facing All-Stars and that's going to happen," Harper said about his performance. "I just went out there and tried to get some pitches that I could hit. I got some, and I got blown away a little bit. You have to keep your chin up. There is nothing you can do."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["all-star_game" ] }
{"content":["all-star_game" ] }