Is it a lock that the Nats will draft Harper?
Dave Shenin of the Washington Post doesn’t think so, and offers several reasons why what everyone things to be a foregone conclusion is not necessarily forgone.
Among the reasons: Harper hasn’t “separated himself” from the pack like Strasburg did; He may not stick at catcher, thus diminishing his value; He’s a Boras client, thus inflating his price; his recent comments about “second guessing” his fast track to the draft may make people question his makeup; the Nats have a catching prospect already, in the form of Derek Norris -- he doesn’t mention Jesus Flores, but he’s worth noting too; and the Nats may contend in 2011, so they might want a more finished product than Harper.
Those are mostly decent points, though each has a counterargument or two. The one about makeup can go either way, of course, in that his decision to skip two years of high school, in my mind at least, raises just as many questions about his maturity and mental preparedness as his statements showing a lack of confidence now that he has done so. I’m also not terribly worried about whether he’ll stick at catcher given that he appears to have a bat that is simply awesome, not just awesome for a catcher. Not as valuable at, say, right field as he is behind the plate, but his bat will play anywhere.
The biggest problem, Shenin notes, is that no other great first round option has emerged yet. Some people think differently, and point to high school pitcher Jameson Taillon, but a high school pitcher, even a great one, is farther away from the big league level than a hitter like Harper, so his pluses work against some of the same considerations Shenin mentions above.
And ultimately Shenin admits that he may be over thinking things. I think he may be right.