Last season's No. 1 overall pick by the Washington Nationals was at the center of a benches-clearing incident in a Class A game Wednesday. Harper and the opposing pitcher exchanged words after Harper took a called third strike. No punches were thrown and nobody was ejected.
Harper hit a home run prior to the strikeout, giving him four homers and 15 RBIs this season.
But it never was production that worried people about Harper. It was his attitude. He showed tendencies to yell at opposing players, teammates and umpires, and he was ejected from a game in the Junior College World Series in June after drawing a line in the dirt in the batter's box to show an umpire that a called strike was outside. It was his second ejection of the season and earned him a two-game suspension.
There was this from Baseball Prospectus before Harper was drafted: "It's impossible to find any talent evaluator who isn't blown away by Harper's ability on the field, but it's equally difficult to find one who doesn't genuinely dislike the kid.
"One scout called him among the worst amateur players he's ever seen from a makeup standpoint, with top-of-the-scale arrogance, a disturbingly large sense of entitlement, and on-field behavior that includes taunting opponents."
"He's just a bad, bad guy," one front-office official told Baseball Prospectus. "He's basically the anti-Joe Mauer."