Mike Rizzo on Calling up Bryce Harper: “I don’t think his leash is short. I think this guy is going to be a good player.”

April 30, 2012 – 7:45 am by Steven Cuce

From the day that Bryce Harper graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, his MLB debut has been much-anticipated. That moment occurred this past weekend when the Washington Nationals were faced with a slew of injury problems and a depleted roster. Nationals Executive Vice President of baseball operations Mike Rizzo felt it made sense to bring Harper up to the big leauges over the weekend because the team was in need. Although Rizzo may have felt that he wanted to give his left field phenom some more time in the minors he needed to make a move. Rizzo believes Harper is ready for the challenge.

Mike Rizzo joined 106.7 The Fan in DC with The LaVar Arrington Show with Chad Dukes to discuss his decision to bring up Bryce Harper to the major league level, his confidence in Bryce Harper hitting well at the major league level, Bryce Harper being ready to play in the major league’s and Bryce Harper’s chance at staying on the Washington Nationals roster.

What went into the decision of bringing Bryce Harper up into the majors?

“It was several issues that went into it. First of all we had a developmental plan for Bryce in place for a long time since we signed the young man. I still believe in the plan. I’m a player development guy at heart and I am still very committed to the plan. We had to deviate from that plan a little bit. It was expedited a little bit by the circumstances and the injuries on the team. This is a team decision. We are going to bring up Harp to support the major league club in a time we need his offensive production and his athleticism and his energy and his left-handed bat and we thought that true to his M.O. he started slow at a new level in triple A, but over the last 10 games he’s started to heat up and certainly over the last six games, three of them which I saw personally, he’s swinging the bat extremely well. His swing is locked in and he’s taken very well to left field, a position he will play in the big leagues for us right now and considering we needed a corner outfielder and a guy that we felt had a chance to make an impact offensively. We felt this was the perfect time to introduce Bryce to the big leagues. He was on the 40-man roster and it made a lot of sense to us.”

Do you feel the confidence that Bryce Harper can bring offensive production to the lineup you guys have right now?

“First of all numbers to me are meaningless in the minor leagues. You have to look at what did this player look like? How ready do you think he is? Numbers are nothing more than a gauge for us. In a very small sample he has performed. He is hitting.250 after playing a very small sample, but even in a smaller sample the last 6 games he’s hitting .313 and that type of thing. It’s more about how he is responding to the league. I look at him in the league and he is as carefully pitched to in that league than anybody on our roster than anybody else in that league. He’s well respected by his peers. He’s certainly not overmatched in the league. I have a feeling he is going to take to any level of play that he plays in. He’s that talented and that extreme of a skill set. He’s a corner outfielder that is on the 40-man roster that we feel can help us offensively. He’s a two-way player. He’s very athletic, fast and he runs the bases well. He’s a fast runner that’s learning to run the bases well in his young career and like I said he adapted well to left field and he’s a guy that has played all three outfield positions in his young professional career and we feel he is going to be an asset to us certainly in the future and we think in the short term right now.”

So it sounds like this was a Nationals business decision to make sure he was ready to be in the big leagues?

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“Well it was a player development decision. It wasn’t a contractual decision. If it was a contractual decision he wouldn’t be up here right now if we were talking about calendars and timelines and that type of thing. We felt that…I felt that he needed more reps. He never got to the Triple-A level. My development philosophy is that I like for players to play at each level at the minor league system. It adds credibility to him in the locker room when he’s with his peers in the major leagues and also gives him a taste of what it is like in each level because each level you go to is a better level with more talented players.”

How short is Bryce Harper’s leash in the big leagues?

“I don’t think his leash is short. I think this guy is going to be a good player. Again I don’t want to deviate too far from my player development plan with him. He can make me deviate from it by playing so well that we can send him down, but I do believe we are going to monitor this and obviously we are going to observe this watch and when Ryan Zimmerman comes off the disabled list we will have another decision to make and we’ll make the decision at that point and if decide Bryce needs to go back again and finish the developmental plan that I had in mind then we’ll do so, if not then he’ll be a fixture here for many years to come.”

Listen to Mike Rizzo on 106.7 The Fan in DC here

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