Harper – Gallo – Bryant – Did They Set The Bar Too High?
Much has been written about these three sluggers by sports pundits all over the country but nowhere can you find a piece from anyone who watched , coached , and/or instructed them through their developmental years from 8 years old through high school – until now ! These three kids all took a starkly different path to the Major Leagues . There are similarities :
– they all hit home runs over the fence by the time they turned 8 years old .
– they all could have gone to any Division 1 College in the country to play baseball .
– they all were not very big young kids until their sophomore year in high school . In fact , they were actually very ” normal ” size kids . Some would even say that they were smaller than most .
– all three were first round draft picks .
– they all have the same agent – Scott Boras
– two of them are GOLDEN SPIKES recipients . HARPER and BRYANT . Gallo did not go to college .
– two of them are MVPs , ROOKIE of the YEAR and NL ALL-STARS ( HARPER and BRYANT ) .
– HARPER and GALLO played club baseball on the same team for several years .
– HARPER and BRYANT played on the same club team for two months .
– GALLO and BRYANT did not play together .
– they all learned how to hit the ball IN THE AIR at a very young age .
THE PATH TO THE SHOW
We all know the story . Which by the way , is a remarkable one . No one could have known the tough decisions that had to be made by the family at the time . Bryce was a perennial #1 overall pick and with that came a plethora of options . Major League Baseball and the players union were going to alter the landscape for amateur draft picks significantly and the financial impact would be substantial . After the 2010 draft class , MLB would no longer be allowed to offer Major League contracts to amateur players . Although very few players prior to this draft had received an offer of this magnitude , Bryce was clearly a candidate . There were also no restrictions on the amount of money , ( there are now ) , that could be offered so again , the financial incentives were very much in play . It was in the families best interest to pursue life changing financial considerations hence the decision to forgo Bryces’ last two years of high school , get his GED , and enter college . While this is considered extremely rare , the talent that Bryce Harper possessed was once in a century talent which created the opportunity for him to live his dream of playing Major league baseball . Many have been critical of this decision but who can argue with the results ? After all , he had the best agent in the business giving him top notch advise . It was well worth the risk for Bryce and his family . Bryce will have a long career with a Rookie of the Year , MVP , and a 5 time NL ALL – STAR award(s) already . Mission accomplished .
In 2012 , Joey was a first round supplemental pick by the Texas Rangers , going 39th overall . The new structure of the CBA ( collective bargaining agreement ) agreed to by the players union , MLB owners , and the MLB commissioners office was restructured in such a way that increased the amount of slot money for 1st round draft picks . When the owners couldn’t offer MLB contracts to their draft picks , they lost a valuable tool to be able to sign high school players and keep them from going to college . In return , the commissioners office agreed to a bonus slotting system that pushed more money to the higher draft picks at the expense of later round draft picks . This actually made it easier for the NCAA to recruit and keep quality athletes drafted AFTER the first three rounds as it made college more attractive to these later round draft picks and allowed them to improve their draft stock by going to college instead . Joey was a beneficiary of this change and the Rangers made it hard for him to say no and attend LSU where he had a baseball scholarship waiting for him . They essentially bought him out of his four year ride to LSU . He has reached the Major Leagues through true grit and persistence and is in the process of securing himself a spot on the roster for many years . And he is still very young , having reached the Major Leagues last year at the age of 22 .
Kris took a more traditional path to the Major Leagues full of unknowns . While a million dollar offer out of high school may be enough to entice some to forgo a college education , by the time taxes and fees were taken out , it just didn’t seem that great a deal . Kris was a Salutatorian out of high school and was really good at math ! We looked at this as a 40 year decision instead of a ” what if ” type of decision . They actually made the decision very easy for us . Both Bryce and Joey had a lot to consider . Kris didn’t have the same considerations . Putting him on the path to a college degree actually put him on the path to the Major Leagues – a parallel path if you will ! At the time , we did not even consider that . Kris had to improve and the way forward was through college . This , like Bryce and Joey , was the best decision we ever made as a family and Kris will second that . In 2013 , Kris was the #2 overall pick by the Chicago Cubs . He would spend 177 games ( one season plus 1 month ) in the minor leagues before he was promoted to the big league club for good on April 17 , 2015 at the age of 23 years old . He would go on to be the Rookie of the Year that year , and become the NL MVP and a World Series Champion the following year as well as a 2 time NL ALL – STAR by his 3rd year in the MLB .
These three starkly different paths to the Major Leagues are something everyone can learn by and , if you have a son who is presented with the same type of opportunity , their three very different stories are something to consider .
Now , did Bryce , Joey , and Kris really set the bar too high ? In my view , NO WAY ! I think that distinct honor goes to two stellar Las Vegas athletes who came well before them : GREG MADDUX and MIKE MORGAN .
Maddox is a Hall of Famer and Mike Morgan went straight from high school to the Major Leagues . Hows that for setting the bar high ? Bryce , Joey , and Kris were what I call ” blue collar baseball players . ” Their brand of baseball has its roots in developing a good work ethic , being a great teammate , and acquiring the knowledge to be able to perform at a high level . All three were students of the game with a passion I have not seen the likes of in this town . Where do you think they got that from ? How about their parents ? When you combine all those characteristics , the result is what you see on the baseball field .
Their stories continue to evolve and when their careers are over , the list of their accomplishments could take up a lot of pages . Maybe then the question , ” DID HARPER , GALLO , and BRYANT SET THE BAR TOO HIGH ? ” will have relevance . But until then , dream until your dreams come true . I did .