And the reason for that excitement? The looming availability of 16-year-old Las Vegas phenom catcher Bryce Harper, who, once officially deemed eligible, projects as the likely top pick in the Draft.
According to an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Harper, who just finished his sophomore year at Las Vegas High School, has officially enrolled at the College of Southern Nevada for the upcoming fall semester. Since CSN is a two-year college, Harper would be eligible for the 2010 Draft. The official announcement came from Harper's father, Ron, while the family was attending a baseball tournament in Oklahoma City.
"Bryce is always looking for his next challenge," his dad told the Review-Journal. "He's going to pursue his education, too. He's going to get pushed academically and athletically. I don't see a problem with it. I think we've handled it the right way. I think it will be a great story."
Harper plans on getting his GED this fall as well.
Tales of the teen's exploits on the baseball field have become legendary of late, especially after a Sports Illustrated cover story dubbed him "Baseball's Chosen One." His tape-measure home runs, some estimated at more than 550 feet, have scouts and the media buzzing.
Playing for the Las Vegas High School Wildcats in '09, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Harper hit .626 with 14 home runs, 55 RBIs and 36 steals.
The team at CSN is coached by Tim Chambers, a family friend of the Harpers, which, according to the Harper family, pretty much sealed the deal.
"That's the only way this works out. I've known Tim for about 25 years," Ron Harper said. "Tim is going to take care of him. I couldn't send Bryce somewhere else. If I sent him across the country, I might second guess myself and think I was crazy."
In addition, Bryce will have another familiar face with him on the Coyotes squad, as his older brother Bryan, a left-handed pitcher, is transferring from Cal State Northridge to join him.
Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less