Harper third in bid to play in first All-Star Game

Harper third in bid to play in first All-Star Game

ATLANTA -- Bryce Harper, one of baseball's most exciting young players, will put his blossoming popularity to the test as one of the National League's Final Vote candidates for the July 10 All-Star Game in Kansas City.

Harper, 19, was one of five candidates named on Sunday, the same day the All-Star teams were announced. He could join teammates Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Ian Desmond at Kauffman Stadium.

It is the first time in club history (since the Nationals moved to Washington in 2005) that the club has sent more than two players.

Final Vote candidates
American League
P Jonathan Broxton, KC
P Yu Darvish, TEX
P Ernesto Frieri, LAA
P Jason Hammel, BAL
P Jake Peavy, CWS
National League
OF Michael Bourn, ATL
3B David Freese, STL
OF Bryce Harper, WAS
2B Aaron Hill, ARI

Other NL Final Vote candidates include Atlanta's Chipper Jones and Michael Bourn, Arizona's Aaron Hill and St. Louis' David Freese.

Harper was third in the NL balloting when Tuesday's first voting update was issued. Jones led, followed by Freese. Hill was fourth and Bourn was fifth.

"It's an accomplishment, I guess, but you've got Chipper up there, and I think a Hall of Famer should be able to go to the All-Star Game in his last year," Harper said Sunday, after the Nationals beat Jones' Braves. "So if I was going to make a vote, I'd vote for Chip."

Harper, the 2010 No. 1 overall Draft pick, tore through the Minor Leagues before making his Major League debut on April 28. Rated the Nationals' top prospect each of the last two seasons, the 2010 Golden Spikes Award winner was named the NL's Rookie of the Month in May.

He's batting .274 with eight homers, 22 RBIs and eight stolen bases this season.

"I think he's got a pretty good chance," Desmond said of his teammate. "Obviously, he has fans everywhere he goes. Even though they boo him, I know they still love him. He's got a good chance. He's played his heart out so far. We don't expect anything less; I don't think anyone else should, either."

Now in its 11th year, the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote presented by Firestone gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's MLB All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and continues until Thursday, July 5 at 4 p.m. EDT. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.

Fans can use their mobile phone to cast votes via the mobile web atMLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the 2012 All-Star GameMLB.com Final Vote presented by Firestone mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 89269. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Msg&Data Rates May Apply. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010. Std rates may apply.

The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.

The 83rd Major League Baseball 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. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m. (EDT)/6:30 p.m. (CDT). ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.

There will be an extra treat for fans who participate in the Final Vote. If you are not a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you are eligible to receive a 14-day free trial of MLB.TV from July 6-20. If you are a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you will receive a 15-percent discount to the MLB.comShop. MLB.com will send an email on July 6 to all Final Vote voters with instructions on how to redeem the applicable offer.

Fans can also take to social media to support Harper, using the hashtag #BryceIn12.

Manager Davey Johnson lauded Harper's season thus far, but sees a bright side if the youngster doesn't make the team.

"I do [think Harper deserves it], but I hope not," Johnson said candidly. "I hope he gets the rest. I've been playing him every day, every inning. So I hope he gets the rest."

The Nationals have had a player participate in the Final Vote balloting in each of the last four seasons -- Cristian Guzman in 2009, Ryan Zimmerman in 2010, Michael Morse in 2011 and Harper this year. The team has never had one of its players win the contest.

Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.