March 14, 2012; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) runs in from the outfield after the third inning of the game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
The Nationals did what most people thought they would do yesterday, sending top prospect Bryce Harper to AAA to continue his development. What we didn't know was that he will be their new center fielder once he is eventually called up to the big leagues in 2012. I wonder if his recent GQ interview angered the Nationals front office make this announcement at this point in spring training. I was of the belief that the Nationals would want to see as much of Harper as they could before deciding.
All offseason, we read that the Nationals were comfortable moving Jayson Werth to center field once Harper arrived in the big leagues to man right field. But now, Harper will play center field, and I have to question why they would move him there. He is a pretty big guy and still growing, but is athletic enough to handle the position. I am curious if this move will end the Nationals pursuit of a true center fielder next offseason.
Here is ESPN's Keith Law on Harper playing CF:
Harper's performance in Sunday's game may have also factored into the decision to send him to AAA. He went 1 - 5 with 4 strikeouts. Patrick Reddington over at Federal Baseball has more on the decision.
More fantasy baseball thoughts after the jump:
As a result of Harper being sent to AAA, it appears the Nationals will go with a combination of Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina in center field till Harper is ready. The Nationals are dealing with injuries to Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche, who won't see any more game action for the next week. Morse is dealing with a lat injury and LaRoche has been slow in his return from shoulder surgery last season. I guess it is entirely possible for the Harper to start the season in the big leagues should Morse and/or LaRoche aren't ready for Opening Day.
Twins starter Francisco Liriano is a sleeper on draft day, but he may move up draft boards if he continues to pitch like he did on Sunday. He threw 5 no-hit innings vs the Pirates, walking just one and striking out 6. He could outperform his current ADP of 246.85 over at Mock Draft Central.
Royals closer Joakim Soria left Sunday's game with elbow soreness. Not a good sign, but the Royals have a couple guys who could step in should Soria's injury be serious - Jonathan Broxton and Greg Holland. But after watching Broxton implode as the Dodgers closer last year, I would stay away from him. Holland has thrown 5.1 innings this spring with a 7-0 K/BB rate, while Broxton has thrown just 2 innings with a 3-1 K/BB rate.
Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin will miss the next 4-6 weeks as he will have arthroscopic knee surgery on his right knee, which has been bothering him since the beginning of spring training. Padres manager Bud Black mentioned that Jesus Guzman, Kyle Blanks and Chris Denorfia will see time in Quentin's absence, and he hopes Quentin only misses the first two weeks of the regular season.
Angels DH Kendrys Morales will play in his first spring training game on Tuesday. He has played in a few minor league games this spring, and so far so good with his ankle. It is amazing to think that he hasn't played in a game since May 2010.
If you're looking for a pitching sleeper on draft day, you may want to consider Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano. He struck out 7 batters in 4 innings of work yesterday, as he held the Cardinals to one run. I recall reading this offseason that his fastball was up to 94-95 in the Dominican Winter League.
Giants starter Madison Bumgarner held the Padres scoreless for 5 innings last night, giving up just 4 hits, no walks and striking out 2. I saw a tweet from Andrew Baggarly saying that scouts are raving about Bumgarner this spring.