WASHINGTON – Top overall draft pick Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals reached an agreement on a $9.9 million, five-year contract shortly before the deadline of midnight EDT Monday night.
A year ago, the Nationals agreed to a record-breaking $15.1 million, four-year contract with No. 1 draft choice Stephen Strasburg a little more than a minute before the clock ran out.
Strasburg made his big league debut June 8, the day after Harper was drafted.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Harper is a 17-year-old power-hitting junior college catcher the Nationals plan to convert to an outfielder. He’s the first junior college player taken with the first overall selection.
Harper hit .443 with 31 homers and 98 RBIs in his first season at the College of Southern Nevada, which plays in a league that uses wood bats. He skipped his final two years of high school and got his GED, making him eligible for the 2010 amateur draft.
He already has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 16, touted as “baseball’s chosen one” and “the most exciting prodigy since LeBron.” He was the first non-senior to earn Baseball America’s High School Player of the Year award. And he was only the second junior college player, joining Alex Fernandez in 1990, to win the Golden Spikes Award, given to the country’s top amateur baseball player.
Harper and Strasburg both are represented by Scott Boras.
The Mariners beat the clock and signed their second-round draft pick before the deadline, high school shortstop Marcus Littlewood.
However, the Mariners didn’t reach an agreement with their third-round pick, right-handed pitcher Ryne Stanek, and they lost their rights to him along with nine other players. Teams had until midnight EDT to sign draft picks with college eligibility remaining or have them return to the draft next June.
Also unsigned is left-handed pitcher James Paxton, drafted in the fourth round, but he has until the week before the draft next June to reach an agreement with the Mariners or return to the draft pool.
Earlier Monday, the Mariners signed left-handed pitcher Jordan Shipers (16th round) and right-handed pitcher Ernesto Zaragoza (25th).