Washington Nationals prospect Bryce Harper blew the opposing pitcher a kiss as he rounded third on a home-run trot last night in a Class A baseball game in Hagerstown, Md. Harper received extensive media attention last year when he was the overall first pick in the 2010 Major League Baseball draft. The Nationals signed him to a $9.9 million contract on Aug. 26, 2010. The 18-year-old currently plays for the Hagerstown Suns, a Washington affiliate, where he's hitting .342 with a slugging percentage of .623 and 42 RBIs.
After connecting with a pitch from Greensboro Grasshopper pitcher Zachary Neal in the sixth inning for a long ball beyond the right-center fence, Harper paused to admire his shot before beginning a slow jog around the bases. Neal took exception at Harper's display and told him so, and Harper responded by turning to the pitcher and puckering his lips in a kiss when he was halfway between third and home.
Harper was hit in the leg by a Grasshopper pitch the day before, which could have partially inspired his actions.
After the unusual gesture, Greensboro manager Andy Haines came out of the dugout to complain about Harper's behavior.
Former MLB player Mike Schmidt said on ESPN's Sports Center, I would say Bryce, if you're going to hit a lot of 'em ... you'd better learn not to show up the pitcher because it's just going to get tougher and tougher on you if you watch your home runs, Schmidt said. Just hit your home runs and hit 'em like you're used to hitting 'em, not like you're surprised when you hit one.
Hagerstown lost the game, 3-2.