Baseball fans the world over can stop wondering when Bryce Harper will move out of Class A ball.
Harper is expected in the lineup for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators on July 4 at Metro Bank Park against the visiting Erie SeaWolves, the Washington Nationals announced Monday morning. His Eastern League debut comes after 72 South Atlantic League games.
The 18-year-old phenom, who was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 Draft, was impressive in his first prolonged stretch of pro ball. He played in the league's June 21 All-Star Game and was among circuit leaders in batting average (sixth, .316), home runs (tied for sixth, 14), runs scored (tied for fourth, 49), RBIs (tied for 12th, 46) and stolen bases (tied for seventh, 19).
Although Harper was only in the Sally League for a few months and generally seemed to coast, he also had the opportunity to show how he'd respond to challenges. He hit .139 over his last 10 games coming into his final weekend in Class A, but he shook off the slump by going 5-for-11 with two doubles, three runs scored, an RBI, four walks and five stolen bases over three games.
Harper caused a media uproar by blowing a kiss to an opposing pitcher after belting a home run early last month, and he told reporters at the Sally League All-Star Game, "I really don't care what people say about me."
The site of his new assignment was home to another much anticipated Double-A event last year; 2009 No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg made his first five pro starts for the Senators, three of which were in Harrisburg.
Harper and the rest of the Senators will look to back Nationals prospect Brad Peacock, who hopes to earn his 10th Eastern League win.