Harper D-Day - A Look at Some of the Most Highly Anticipated MLB Debuts

To celebrate Bryce Harper's Major League Debut, we're taking a look at some of the most highly anticipated D-Day's in baseball history.  Enjoy! 

As I was putting the finishing touchest on this piece, Harper who was 1-3 with a double, hit a sac fly in the bottom of the 9th of a 1-1 tie game to put the Nationals ahead 2-1. He also flashed the strength of his arm earlier in the game, throwing a strike to home plate in an attempt to cut down a runner from left field.  A big, 'You're Welcome,' to the Big Leagues, by the phenom.

Ken Griffey Jr.

His Lore: Griffey, the son of major leaguer Ken Griffey Sr., was a two year all-American in high school and the high school player of the year in 1987.  He was taken first overall in that year's MLB draft by the Seattle Mariners and breezed through A and AA, posting an OPS right around 1.000 while swiping 49 bags in just 129 games.

Rookie Campaign: Griffey broke camp with the big league club in 1989 at the ripe age of 19.  He played in 127 games that season and finished with a respectable .264/.329/.420 triple slash (16 HR, 16 SB and 23 2B).  He finished third in the Rookie of the Year race.

Debut Line:
April 3, 1989 @ Oakland A's (SP - Dave Stewart)
1-3 (1 BB), 2B, R

BJ Surhoff

His Lore: Surhoff hit one of the most infamous home runs in high school baseball history.  The home run, referred to as "the killer" cleared an adjacent highway, glanced off of a firehouse and killed a squirrel.  Surhoff attended UNC where he would become a two-time All-American, hitting .392 over the course of his celebrated college career.  He was drafted first by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1985 and breezed through two minor league seasons hitting .332 and .308 at A and AAA, respectively.

Rookie Campaign: Surhoff broke camp with the Brewers in 1987 and performed admirably his rookie year, hitting .299/.423/.773 with 7 HR, 11 SB, 22 2B, 50 R and 68 RBI playing in 115 games.

Debut Line:
April 8, 1987 vs Red Sox (Opposing SP - Al Nipper)

Stephen Strasburg

His Lore: Undrafted out of high school, Strasburg followed his parents footsteps, attending San Diego State University.  He was a successful high school player, boasting a 1.68 ERA over three full seasons while striking out 74 batters in 61.1 innings but he didn't really reach 'elite prospect' status until college.  His college numbers were remarkable - his junior year, he went 13-1 with a 1.32 ERA while striking out 195 batters in 109 innings pitched.  In a game his sophomore year, he struck out 23 batters in a game.  His pitch repertoire coming out of college included a triple digit fastball and a devastating curveball.  Strasburg was drafted first overall in 2009, signing a record $15.1 million contract.  ESPN declared Strasburg the "most-hyped pick in draft history."

Rookie Campaign: Strasburg made his professional debut midway through the 2009 season after blazing through the minor leagues (his minor league numbers in 2010 across two levels, 7-2, 1.30 ERA, 55 ip, 65 SO, 13 BB, 0.795 WHIP).  In his nationallyh televised debut, Strasburg would show the world why he was so highly touted, striking out 14 batters over 7 innings, walking no one.  He would continue to live up to expectations that season before having his Rookie Campaign derailed by injury (elbow - Tommy John surgery).

Debut Line:
June 8, 2010 vs Pit (Opposing SP - Jeff Karstens)
7ip, 4H, 2R (2ER), 14 SO, 1HR, 0 BB, dec (W)

Joe Mauer

His Lore: Mauer was a three-sport athlete in high school.  In his senior year, he became the only athlete ever selected as the USA Today High School Player of the Year in two sports (football and baseball).  Amazingly, Mauer only struck out once during his high school career and hit a ridiculous .605 during his senior season.  He set several Minnesota state records, including his seven-game home run streak.  He was drafted number one overall by the Minnesota Twins in 2001, signing with the Twins (turning down multiple scholarship offers to play football).  Mauer debuted on the Baseball America Top Prospects list at #7 (he hit .400 that season), rising to #4 the following year (.302 that season) and #1 for each of the next two seasons (.338 and .400, respectively).  Mauer playing catcher likely slowed his big league promotion a couple of years (one of the reasons why Bryce Harper is no longer behind the plate) but Mauer was certainly highly touted; his debut anticipated in Minnesota like no one before him.

Rookie Campaign: Mauer hit .308/.369/.570 in his rookie season (2004).  Playing catcher, he was limited to only 35 games.

Debut Line:
April 5, 2004 vs. Cleveland (Opposing SP - Eric Wedge)
2-3, 2R, 2BB, 1 SO

Daisuke Matsuzaka

His Lore: the gyro ball... utter domination of the Japanese leagues and a frenzy over the $51 million posting fee that the Red Sox paid to Matsuzaka's Nippon League team (the Seibu Lions) just for the opportunity to negotiate with Daisuke and his agent (Scott Boras).  Matsuzaka was one of the most decorated pitchers in Nippon League history prior to making himself available for the big leagues in 2006.

Rookie Campaign: Daisuke was named Baseball America's Top Prospect in 2007 and made his Major League Debut on April 5th (breaking camp with the club and pitching in the Red Sox third game of the season).  He went 15-12 that season with a 4.40 ERA.  He logged 204.2 innings and struck out 201 batters.  He walked 80 batters, leading to a WHIP of 1.324.

Debut Line:
April 4, 2007 @ Kansas City Royals (Opposing SP - Zack Greinke)
7 ip, 6 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 10 SO, dec (W)

David Clyde

His Lore: Clyde dominated his senior year in high school, posting an 18-0 record while only giving up three earned runs in 148 innings.  He was picked first overall in the 1973 MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers (ahead of Robin Yount and David Winfield) and received a signing bonus of $125,000 (the largest in history at that time).  Clyde's arrival was so highly anticipated that Rangers owner Bob Short made the call to give Clyde two big league starts before sending him to the minors (the Rangers, who had moved from Washington DC, boasted the second-smallest gate attendance in the American League prior to Clyde's arrival).  Clyde's first big league start resulted in the first sellout in Arlington Stadium history.  Unfortunately, his early success would force the Rangers to drop all plans to send Clyde to the minors, a move which would ultimately derail his career.  In Clyde's six home starts, the average attendance was 27,000 - the rest of the home games saw attendance around 6,000.  Clyde would eventually develop arm trouble and never experience extended success at the big league level (commonly attributed to the decision to rush him to the big leagues).

Rookie Campaign: Clyde went 4-8 in 1973 at the ripe age of 18.  He posted a 5.01 ERA and struck out 74 in 93.1 innings.  He also walked 54 batters, en route to a 1.714 WHIP.

Debut Line:
June 27, 1973 vs. Twins (Opposing SP - Jim Kaat)
5ip, 1H, 2 R (2 ER), 7 BB, 8 SO, 1 HR, dec (W)

1 comment:

  1. I remember the David Clyde story. He was as heralded as Strasberg, but as OCP said they rushed him and it cost them. He could have been a really good pitcher.


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