Bryce Harper, the highly sought-after slugger, started his inevitable road to the majors Thursday afternoon at the Washington Nationals’ Minor League complex near Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida. Because Harper didn’t sign his five-year, $9.9 million deal — a record for a position player coming out of the Draft — until mere seconds before the August 17 deadline, minor league ball wasn’t an option. So, just like fellow phenom and future-teammate Stephen Strasburg in September 2009, the instructional league is Harper’s first exposure to pro ball. Harper, who is being converted from a catcher to an outfielder, played five innings and struck out swinging in two at-bats yesterday. The 17-year-old stud won’t rise to the majors as quickly as Strasburg, but don’t expect him to languish the minors for an eternity either. With a strong arm and a big bat, the left-handed hitter was the consensus number one pick in this year’s draft.
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