Paul Konerko gets the 2,000th hit of his career, an RBI single in the eighth inning.
words // Nick Engvall
This week, Paul Konerko, first baseman and team captain of the Chicago White Sox, reached the monumental feat of 2,000 hits. Konerko became the 266th player in Major League Baseball history to reach the elusive number. The five-time All-Star is one of very few players to stick with a team throughout the majority of his career. After arriving in Chicago in 1999, he helped lead the team to a World Series title in 2005, and has been a fan favorite ever since. Unfortunately for the Sox, although Konerko’s eighth inning single tied the game at four, the Angels spoiled the occasion by winning it in the nineth.
Across the country in Washington, D.C., the Nationals hosted the Arizona Diamondbacks, despite the earthquake that rocked the area earlier in the day. Apparently the Nationals’ batting was shaken up by Mother Nature, as they couldn’t manage to score any runs for Jordan Zimmerman. Despite the loss, fans seemed to make the most of the days events, as seen in the photo below.
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Adrian Gonzalez send one deep wearing his Nike player exclusives.
Kelly Shoppach wearing Reebok baseball cleats.
Clayton Kershaw wearing Under Armour cleats and a Wilson glove.
Albert Pujols, always in a player exclusive colorway from Nike.
John Mayberry Jr blasts a home run wearing the Nike Air Max Diamond Elite Fly.
Derek Jeter makes a nice play in his latest Jordan cleats.
A good look at Chipper Jones’ Mizuno baseball cleats.
Brandon Allen with a unique batting glove colorway from Cutters.
Even his New Balance cleats couldn’t keep Danny Espinosa’s bat from shattering during the earthquake.
Thankfully, everyone survived the Nationals game.
words // Nick Engvall
For the last couple of years, the most exciting prospect in the game seems to have been in the Washington Nationals organization. Following the debut of Stephen Strasburg last year, the Nationals continued to raise their youthful potential and added another of baseball’s brightest rising stars at the 2010 MLB Draft, catcher Bryce Harper. Bryce hit just under the .400 mark this year during Spring Training and was optioned to Single-A Hagerstown for more opportunity to work on his already loaded arsenal of skills.
At just 18 years old, he is one of the most exciting players to watch. You can probably credit that to his hustle. To give you an understanding of the level of hustle this 6′ 3″ 225-pounder brings with him every game, you only have to look at those professionals he looks up to as heroes. The list is short but poignant, with only two of the toughest and fiercest competitors baseball has ever seen, George Brett and Pete Rose, it’s apparent where Harper’s career is headed.
Today it was announced that Under Armour has signed Bryce Harper to the growing list of baseball players on their roster. He’ll help carry the UA Baseball category alongside other players such as Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, and Nationals third basemen Ryan Zimmerman.
After the announcement, it was again apparent where this young player’s career is headed as Harper himself said, “I’m excited to join the Under Armour family, which has shown such a strong commitment to helping young baseball players – and elite athletes in multiple sports – elevate their games.”
Watching the rise of this star’s career should be one fans will enjoy. After winning the 2010 Golden Spikes Award, and now teaming up with Under Armour, his future is only brighter.
Available now: Under Armour Baseball Equipment
Well, nobody said it would be easy. However, after a lot of posturing, Bryce Harper, agent Scott Boras and the Washington Nationals finally came to terms on a contract. The deal is said to have been mutually agreed upon just minutes before Monday’s midnight trade deadline. If this story seems familiar, it’s because the Nationals went through the same process with Boras and top pick Stephen Strasburg last year.
Harper’s deal is said to be a five-year contract worth $9.9 million dollars guaranteed, the largest ever for a drafted position player. He gets a $6.25 million signing bonus in five equal payments of $1.25 million 30 days after approval and each July 1 from 2011 through 2014. He’ll also receive salaries of $500,000 each in 2011 and 2012, $750,000 in 2013, $900,000 in 2014 and $1 million in 2015. Bonuses of $500,000 can be earned on the active Major League roster in each of the final two seasons. The Nationals also agreed to cover Harper’s remaining education costs.
At just 17 years of age, Harper becomes the first Junior College player to be taken with the number one overall pick. He hit .443 with 31 homers and 98 RBIs in his first season at the College of Southern Nevada. What’s unique about those numbers is that he played in a league that uses wooden bats, opposed to the aluminum bats that may inflate numbers. He skipped his final two years of high school and got his General Equivalency Diploma, making him eligible for the 2010 amateur draft.
It’s unknown at the moment exactly how Harper will fit in with the Nationals organization. On draft day, he was announced by the Nationals as an outfielder. However, there are some people within the organization that would like to see him catch. If that were to be the case, it would presumably delay his advancement. Either way, the Nationals and their fans have to be excited to have landed the big prize in the amateur baseball pool for the second straight year.
images via Yahoo
As a pitcher, the low scoring close games are the ones that break you. Stephen Strasburg will have to get used to tough losses, like Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals if he is going to be the All Star that many expect him to be in the future. It’s not Strasburg’s performance that will be in question in games like these, but rather the offensive output of his own team that may leave him feeling a bit frustrated.
While Strasburg did give up 9 hits (all singles), just one less than he had in his first three starts combined. He also wrote his name next to another stat in the record book. Strasburg’s 9 strikeouts brings his total through the first four starts of his career to 41, more than any other pitcher in baseball history. Strasburg had already recorded the most strikeouts over his first three starts with a total of 32. However, the Washington Nationals offense was nowhere to be found and Strasburg, while only giving up one run and lowering his ERA to an impressive 1.78, received the first loss of his career.
The right-hander recorded another first that might usually go unnoticed. Strasburg singled in the third inning to record his first hit in the major leagues.
While the Nationals are struggling as a team over the last 9 games, losing 7, Strasburg is still a standout. With up-and-coming catcher, Bryce Harper now in the Nationals’ system it will just be a matter of time before Washington gets a solid offense to ensure that the one-run losses are held to a minimum. Strasburg will just need to be patient, and continue mowing through opponent’s lineups with his near triple-digit fastball, on his way to a great career. At 2-1 with 41 strikeouts and an ERA at 1.78 and dropping, he is already off to an incredible start.
image via yahoo
Major League Baseball’s draft begins this evening, and much like the 2009 MLB Draft, where Stephen Strasburg was unquestionably the number one option in the draft, the 2010 draft was set up to be very predictable as well.
This year’s number one pick will likely be the Bryce Harper. The 6’3″, 205 pound catcher appears to be one of baseball’s biggest potentials at the age of 17 years old. The “LeBron James of Baseball” has been the most highly regarded of prospects for some time now, and despite some solid players in the draft, will become the focus of the Washington Nationals offense in the coming seasons.
Harper was the 2009 Baseball America High School Player of the Year thanks to a .626 batting average, 14 home runs, and 55 runs batted in.
More impressive than that, Harper has started started taking classes and playing for the College of Southern Nevada in 2010 after receiving his GED last year. His numbers look like a Major League All Star in the making. While leading the team to regional and district championships, Bryce Harper batted .442 with a .986 slugging percentage, scoring 88 runs, hitting 29 home runs with 89 runs batted in.
Other feats include a 6-for-7 performance in the National Junior College World Series, which included hitting for the cycle. In the same tournament, Harper had a 6-for-6 game that included 4 home runs.
With tremendous upside, there is always some risks, and Harper’s temperament has been doubted by the naysayers, but most can remember having a “temperament” their own at 17 years old.
So, who will the Nationals take with their number one pick?
Good question, easy answer.
image via Yahoo