But could it be in 2012, when he’s just 19? Manager Davey Johnson is going to give Harper that chance, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com:
“But I think that the main thing is … could he handle it mentally? And I think in his mind, he’s already figuring to be starting on the club, if you ask him,” Johnson said recently about Harper. “And I haven’t talked to him, but I know that he’s done everything in his whole life to succeed at a higher level and compete with the best. But I think [Harper is] pretty mature. I don’t look at him age-wise, as I probably should.”
If Harper does make the team, it would be as the starting right fielder, with Jayson Werth playing center field. Harper has a lot of confidence in his abilities:
“I feel really positive about going to Spring Training this year,” Harper said via telephone. "I really feel I have a legit shot at making the club. We have a lot of guys coming in — veteran guys that could really teach me how to approach the game. … I’m really excited for this year.
“I’ve been working my butt off this offseason, getting ready to go out there and doing outfield stuff, working on running and jumping — everything that consists of trying to make this team. To have Davey on my side, that a very big plus going in there.”
Harper would be the youngest player in the major leagues if he makes the team out of spring training, since there don’t seem to be any other 19-year-olds anywhere close to major league jobs. Harper hit .297/.392/.501 combined between High-A and Double-A in 2012 and added six home runs in 93 at-bats in the Arizona Fall League. Many AFL players make it in the majors the following season, so who’s to say that Harper won’t be the next?