Bryan Harper happy to rub elbows with Nats

Bryan Harper happy to rub elbows with Nats

VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals were practicing defensive drills prior to the start of Thursday's Grapefruit League game against the Mets, when one fan noticed something unusual.

"Did Bryce Harper change his number?" he asked aloud to no one in particular after noticing a Harper jersey with the No. 33 on the back.

Bryce Harper, who wears No. 34, had already left Space Coast Stadium due to a stomach bug. This was his older brother, Bryan Harper, up from the Minor League camp for the day to practice with the Nationals. He was listed as one of the team's emergency pitchers for Thursday's game, although Bryan was just happy to get a chance to spend the day in big league camp.

"It's great," Bryan Harper said. "[Bryce] takes care of me and he knows the ins and outs of it. It's fun, it's a family organization as it is, so anytime you do have family members it's just an added bonus."

Bryan Harper, a 25-year old left-hander, posted a 3.19 ERA in 39 games last season between Class A Advanced Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. Since being selected by the Nationals in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, one year after Bryce, Bryan has gotten to know most of the players on the current Nats roster. This year, Bryan said he was especially looking forward to talk with the starting pitchers, especially, Max Scherzer.

Bryan Harper said he has been working on the consistency of his delivery and keeping himself from rushing to the plate. He has his sights set on making it to the big leagues and would love the chance to play on the same field as his brother one more time.

"It would be great," Bryan said. "Obviously, I was fortunate enough to play in high school with him and junior college with him also, but I think the next level would be a true reward for the both of us."

Jamal Collier is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.