By James Nahikian
I read an interesting article recently about how organizations manage their top prospects differently. It stated that if a team keeps their players in the minors for multiple years, they may be better off than those who are immediately rushed onto the big league scene. The author said that if a player stays in the minor leagues for a few years, they can learn more, go through needed growing pains, and be better prepared for the challenges that they will face when they reach “The Show.” He compared the Detroit Tigers’ top positional prospect, Nick Castellanos, to the top prospect in Major League Baseball, Bryce Harper. Harper was just called up to the Washington Nationals a few weeks ago. While Castellanos, a few years older than the 19 year old phenom, is in Class-A.
Now, I do think that the author is right to an extent. Having a player work out his kinks before playing at the top level is a great idea. He can learn what it takes to be the best while not feeling rushed. But will Nick Castellanos be a better player than Bryce Harper just because he will have played more games in the minors? Or will any top prospect fair better if he is eased into things at a slower level? That, I don’t know. You would always love not to rush a player, and for the Tigers, with Castellanos playing the same position as Miguel Cabrera, there is certainly no need to rush him to Detroit. However, the topic is very interesting, but there is no way in telling either way. In my opinion, it depends on the player and the organization that the player is involved with.
As for Bryce Harper, I do not think that he was a publicity stunt, or someone they called up just to fill some seats at Nationals Park. The number one overall draft pick in 2010 is the real deal. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 16, and he has certainly performed well at every stop along the way. I think the Nationals called him up because they feel that he can impact their club, they feel that he can help them win now. The Nationals are eight games above 500. I have seen them play multiple times this year, they are a good team. They are not some desperate last place club trying to make some more money. Bryce Harper plays the game about as hard as I have ever seen a player play. He literally sprints out every pop fly and ground ball, he runs into fences while trying to make catches, and he even has stole home once. Not to mention he has every tool that you can possibly think of. He has a rocket for an arm, he hits for power and takes pitches the opposite way, he has good speed, and he can play multiple positions in the outfield. He is the top prospect in baseball for a reason, the kid can flat out play, and his potential is off the charts.
Bryce Harper is a once in a lifetime type of player. So you can’t base the topic of how to handle top prospects off of his circumstance. I mean, how many 19 year olds have ever played in the big leagues? Not many. I don’t think it’s ideal to put top prospects in big league uniforms right away, but I also don’t think that Bryce Harper is a publicity stunt. The fact is, some players are just special, and there is no set way on how to handle players. That is the beauty of the game. And afterall, the only way to truly find out if a player can play, is to place him at the top level and watch him perform. Every player is different, and every organization is different. Only time will tell us which teams are doing it the “right” way.
CREDIT: Thank you Drew Sharp (Writer for the Bleacher Report) for writing the article that I mentioned in my story. “Will Nick Castellanos Be Better Than Bryce Harper or Mike Trout?”
James Nahikian blogs about the industry of sports. And specializes in articles about the Detroit Tigers, Major League Baseball and Bowling Green State University Athletics. Email him at email@example.com And follow him on twitter @KingNahikian or facebook where you can find links to his articles and updates about future posts.