Harper Has Better Night, But Both Here to Stay
[Updated] The two biggest hitting prospects in baseball joined their MLB clubs on Saturday, making for a surprise historic day in baseball, and at least one of them is already living up to the hype.
The Nationals called up superprospect Bryce Harper on Saturday, while the stumbling Angels cut ties with veteran Bobby Abreu in order to hand an everyday job to their own super-youngster, outfielder Mike Trout. The two teams, and the situation they're placing their premium prospects into the middle of, share a lot of similarities.
Both players were expected to sit until June for cost-saving reasons, but the Nationals and Angels are both hungry for a playoff season, and both clubs have been hampered by injury and poor performance.
Both Trout and Harper started in Saturday's games, making for a surprisingly historic day in baseball. Both superstar prospects had the pressure of their debuts relieved a little, by making their first starts on the road, rather than in front of home-town crowds.
Trout, leading off for the Angels, went 0-for-4 with a strikeout but came close to making a highlight reel catch in his return to the outfield. The Angels won the game, though, snapping a losing streak and showing just a little bit of hope in what has been a disastrous April. With Abreu gone, Trout is expected to make the majority of outfield starts going forward, though he may sit against tougher pitchers occasionally.
Harper had a better debut, striking a line-drive double in his third at-bat against the Dodgers amid taunts and boos from the Dodger faithful, and added a sac-fly RBI off closer Javy Guerra in the ninth inning. Like Trout, he almost made a highlight-reel play on defense, absolutely nailing Jerry Hairston at home plate, though his effort was lost when catcher Wilson Ramos couldn't hold onto the ball. Harper is a lock in the Nationals' lineup from here on out.
Both teams are hoping their best rookies will kickstart their teams back into contention before their playoff hopes dissolve.