Thursday, August 19, 2010, 9:25 p.m.
By Holden Kushner
I had a chance to talk to Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo on the radio show the day after Bryce Harper signed. We talked about how special the kid is. 17-years-old. Five tool player. Prodigy.
When talking about Harper, Rizzo said, This type of talent has gotten to the big leagues fairly quickly in the past. You look at 17 year-olds that have gone high in the draft such as A-Rod and Griffeythey have very high upside.
Right when I heard that, it all set in. When the names A-Rod and Griffey are thrown out in comparison to Bryce Harper, the kids career is either boom or bust. There is no in-between.
If Harper can manage to live up to the hype that Rodriguez and Junior did, hell end up in the Hall of Fame.
But what if hes just above average? A couple of All Star Games and maybe a home run title? Harper needs to be bigger than life to live up to expectations levied on him. Ken Griffey Jr. was.
I remember the hype surrounding Junior. I was a 14 year-old lucky enough to find two of his 1989 Upper Deck rookie cards packs that my Pop had bought me. I even ordered 10 of his Fleer and 10 Donruss rookies as well. The 17-year-old son of Ken Griffey was destined for greatness. 600-and-something home runs later he lived up to the hype. Heck, he lived up to it well before then.
Griffey Jr. ended up being so important to the Mariners franchise that former club President Chuck Armstrong once told reporters that, I doubt we would have Major League Baseball here today but for the fateful decision to draft Junior in 1987.
You know where that 17-year-old kid was drafted? Number one overall. And he didnt disappoint.
Earlier this year, Bryce Harper was drafted number one overall as a 17 year-old. He may have to live up to even more hype than Grifffey. Bryce was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 16. Griffeys first cover came at the ripe old age of 20.
And my how times have changed. We can watch Harper hit prodigious home run after prodigious home run on YouTube. Back when Griffey was 16, we watched baseball on a television we called the boob tube. No highlights, just legend.
Do I think Bryce Harper will live up to the hype? Mike Rizzo said, "He could possibly be a cornerstone of our lineup in the very near future."
He better be.