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The first round of Major League Baseball’s 2010 first-year player draft featured many unexpected surprises, including the position at which Bryce Harper was drafted.

As expected, the Washington Nationals made the 17-year-old Junior College standout the No. 1 overall pick Monday night. Unexpectedly, they selected the switch hitter as an outfielder instead of a catcher, the position at which Harper has played the most.

Ultimately, the Nationals decided Harper’s 80 raw power , excellent bat speed and strong arm would play best in right field. Keeping him at catcher would be extremely risky and delay his major-league debut by at least three years. 

Though this decision potentially hurts his long-term value to fantasy teams, it opens the door for a possible big-league debut in September 2011.

While his first taste of the majors is more likely to come in 2012, the Vegas native won’t become fantasy-relevant at least until the 2013 season at the tender age of 20.

Although Harper’s astounding talent is hard to ignore, (23 homers, .417/.509/.917 triple-slash in 180 regular-season at-bats in 2010) he’s got a long journey ahead of him.

Still, keeper and dynasty league managers will fight for his rights in drafts next season, as Harper has the ability to join the likes of Ken Griffey Jr ., Andruw Jones , Miguel Cabrera and Jason Heyward as a fantasy-relevant 20-year-old with Hall-of-Fame upside.


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