At midnight EST this morning, Major League Baseball's signing deadline came and went for players drafted in the June MLB Draft. The first overall pick of the draft by the Washington Nationals was Bryce Harper, a 17 year old from Las Vegas who has already graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and drawn comparisons to basketball star LeBron James as both are athletic prodigies. He signed a contract worth $9.9 million over 5 years which includes a $6.25 million signing bonus; yes, he's only 17.
By all accounts, Harper is the real deal. Tremendously gifted, he has amazing bat speed and intangibles and with the majority of scouts projecting him as the top overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft if he were to drop out of high school two years before graduation and become eligible. Harper did just that and subsequently got his GED and attended the College of Southern Nevada. There, he wound up hitting 31 home runs in 66 games and hit .443...with a wooden bat! Who was the last .400 hitter in the Majors? Yes, it was none other than Hall of Famer Ted Williams in 1941. He is also known for hitting the longest home run in Tropicana Field - home to the Major League Tampa Bay Rays - at 502 feet. In short, Bryce Harper is kind of a baseball freak of nature and today, he's $9.9 million richer.
From an athletics and marketing perspective, the 17 year old Harper is part of a new breed of rich, young elites. In Kanye West's remix of his song "Diamonds from Sierra Leone", rap mogul Jay-Z says that he's not a "businessman" but a "business, man". Welcome to the new world of Bryce Harper - I hope he's as good at picking a quality financial adviser as he is at playing baseball. Bryce, if you read this, consider joining Generation WI$E!
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