A Month Removed from Indy Ball, Arizona Promotes Lachance to Triple-A Reno

July 6 - Nearly a month to the day he had his independent league contract purchased by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Kevin Lachance finds himself one step from the Major Leagues. 

A graduate of Centreville and a 10th round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016 out of the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, Lachance was tearing through the independent American Association at a .372 clip with a .509 on-base percentage when Arizona signed him on June 7. 

After hitting .258 with nine RBI in 10 games with the organization’s rookie-level Pioneer League club, Lachance was moved to Visalia in the Advanced-A California League last week. When Triple-A Reno second baseman Domingo Leyba was promoted yesterday to fill the roster spot created by an injury to Diamondbacks outfielder David Peralta, the organization decided to promote Lachance to fill his spot for the remainder of Reno’s weekend home series with Takoma. 

He was told of the promotion after last night’s game by Visalia manager Shawn Roof, and he’s penciled in the lineup at second base for tonight’s game. 

“It’s been a crazy, obviously. I arrived this morning and went straight to the ballpark. It was a late night and early morning, and I’m trying to find a place to get a little rest before the game,” Lachance said. “I guess something happened and I assume it’ll just be for a few days, but who knows. I’m here now and will just compete. It’s an awesome opportunity and I’m excited for it. It’s kind of been a wild ride, especially recently. 

“All you can do is show up and compete wherever they send you.”

Lachance, who turned 25 earlier this week, was an all-region shortstop at Centreville and earned All-America East Conference honors when he hit .373 with six home runs, 29 RBI and 28 steals as a senior at UMBC. A shoulder injury prevented him from making his professional debut until 2017, and he spent time in indy ball last year after the Dodgers released him in training camp. 

Signed in part due to his defensive versatility, Lachance has played second base, third base, left field and center field since joining the organization, and he has also practiced at shortstop - his position in high school and college - as well as in right field. 

“I’ve kind of been all over,” he said. “That’s what they told me, that versatility is something that they like. Something I’ve always taken a lot of pride in is my defense.”

Photo of Kevin Lachance courtesy of UMBC Athletics

Pro Notebook: Parker Returns to Major Leagues With Angels

July 5 - Jarrett Parker is back in the Major Leagues, the outfielder promoted earlier this week by the Los Angeles Angels.

Parker, a 2007 graduate of Colonial Forge, entered as a defensive replacement for Justin Upton in a 6-2 win at the Texas Rangers on Wednesday and flew out in his lone at-bat. Yesterday, he got the start in left field and went 0-for-3 with a walk in a 9-3 loss. 

His latest big league stint comes 21 months after he last played with the San Francisco Giants. The 30-year-old began the 2017 season as San Francisco’s starting left fielder, but had his campaign derailed by a broken collarbone suffered when he slammed into the outfield wall at Oracle Park that April. He was out of baseball last year while working back to full health.

Prior to being called up, Parker was having a big season at Triple-A Salt Lake, hitting .296 with a .424 on-base percentage, 12 doubles, 19 home runs and 56 RBI in 64 games. 

Agnos Sharp in Debut With Staten Island

Jake Agnos (Battlefield) was sharp in his debut with short-season Single-A Staten Island, making the start and striking out five without allowing a hit over three scoreless innings in a 5-2 win over Tri-City on Wednesday. 

A fourth-round draft pick last month by the New York Yankees, Agnos issued a two-out walk in the first inning before retiring the final seven batters he faced. He struck out the side in the second and finished with 42 pitches, 27 for strikes. “[Agnos] was 90-92 MPH with his fastball,” wrote Robert Pimpsner of Pinstripe Prospects. 

Agnos made his professional debut last week with one of the club’s affiliates in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, allowing four runs (two earned) on two hits while fanning six in two innings. The left-hander had an All-American campaign this spring at East Carolina University, going 11-3 with a 2.29 ERA and setting school and American Athletic Conference single-season records with 145 strikeouts in 102 innings. 

Scrubb Continues Impressive Campaign at Double-A Tulsa

Now in his fourth professional season, Andre Scrubb (C.D. Hylton) has been one of the top relievers in the Double-A Texas League. 

The 6-foot-4, 265-pound right-hander enters the day 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 24 relief appearances with Tulsa. He has 48 strikeouts to 20 walks in 41 innings, and opposing batters are hitting just .195 against him. 

Scrubb has posted an ERA of 2.86 or better in each of his four minor league campaigns since the Los Angeles Dodgers took him in the eighth round from High Point University in 2016.

Sponsor: The magazine’s Pro Notebook is sponsored by the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. For more information on the Blue Crabs, visit their website at www.somdbluecrabs.com.

Photos, clockwise from left, of Jarrett Parker courtesy of Associated Press, Jake Agnos by Robert Pimpsner, and Andre Scrubb courtesy of MiLB.com.

Woodgrove’s Lockhart Signs With Texas Rangers

July 4 - Nick Lockhart signed a professional contract with the Texas Rangers last night, Woodgrove coach Rusty Smith confirmed this morning. 

Lockhart, a 6-foot-7, 210-pound right-hander, became the area’s lone high school player selected in last month’s Major League Baseball Draft when Texas took him in the 11th round (325th overall). He weighed his options for nearly a month before deciding to skip college and go straight to pro ball. Lockhart had signed to pitch on scholarship at Virginia Tech over the winter. 

Terms of his signing bonus were not immediately known. 

A two-sport standout for the Wolverines, Lockhart helped the Purcellville school win the Class 4 state football championship last fall while being named the Region 4C co-Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team all-state selection at defensive end. He also played tight end.

This spring, he went 6-3 with a 1.21 ERA and had 68 strikeouts to just 18 walks in 52 innings en route to first-team All-Dulles District and second-team all-region honors. In his final high school start, Lockhart struck out eight over 7.1 innings in a 1-0 extra-inning district semifinal loss to Loudoun County.

Each of the 11 players from Northern Virginia taken in the MLB Draft this year have now signed.

Photo courtesy of Lockhart Family

Pro Notebook: Bukauskas to Pitch in Futures Game over MLB All-Star Break

June 28 - J.B. Bukauskas has been selected to pitch in Major League Baseball’s Futures Game over the All-Star break next weekend in Cleveland. 

The Stone Bridge graduate, a first round draft pick of the Houston Astros in 2017, will suit up for the American League team managed by Jim Thomas against a team of National League prospects managed by Omar Vizquel. The game is scheduled for July 7 at 7 p.m.

Bukauskas, 22, has had an up-and-down first half at Double-A Corpus Christi - he’s 0-3 with a 5.97 ERA with 69 strikeouts to 39 walks in 57.1 innings - but the right-hander remains on track as he progresses through Houston’s farm system. He is rated as the organization’s No. 5 prospect by MLB Pipeline, which lists him as the No. 98 overall prospect in baseball. 

Courtland Grad McBroom Selected to Triple-A All-Star Game

Ryan McBroom (Courtland) is having another All-Star season in the minor leagues, earning a spot in the Triple-A midsummer classic, it was announced yesterday. 

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound first baseman entered the day hitting .316, sixth in the International League, with 19 doubles, 16 home runs and 36 RBI in 67 games at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. 

His selection to the game, which will be held on July 10 in Reno, NV, marks the fourth time in five years he’s been selected to an All-Star Game. He earned honors in the Single-A Midwestern League in 2015 en route to league Most Valuable Player honors, then was named to the Advanced-A Florida State League game in 2016 and to the Double-A Eastern League game in 2017. 

Rizzo Extends Hit Streak to 9 After Playing in California League All-Star Game

Joe Rizzo (Oakton) played in the Advanced-A California League All-Star Game on June 18, and he hasn’t gone a game without a hit since. 

The magazine’s NOVA Nine Player of the Year in 2015, Rizzo is having his best professional campaign in his fourth season since the Seattle Mariners took him in the second round in 2016. Modesto’s left-handed swinging third baseman entered the day on a nine-game hitting streak and is hitting .298 with a .364 on-base percentage, 19 doubles, five homers and 31 RBI in 74 games.

Over his current hitting streak, Rizzo is batting .395 and has six multi-hit games. He has seven three-hit games this season. 

Sponsor: The magazine’s Pro Notebook is sponsored by the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. For more information on the Blue Crabs, visit their website at www.somdbluecrabs.com.

Photos of, clockwise from left, J.B. Bukauskas, Ryan McBroom and Joe Rizzo courtesy of their respective clubs

Pro Notebook: Dodgers’ Sborz Makes MLB Debut, Then Put on 10-Day Injured List

June 22 - A day after making his Major League debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers, former McLean High School standout Josh Sborz was placed on the 10-day injured list yesterday.

In Thursday’s 9-8 win over the San Francisco Giants, Sborz came on in relief in the eighth inning and retired Tyler Austin, Buster Posey and Brandon Belt in order. His second inning didn’t go as well, as he was replaced after giving up a two-run double to Brandon Crawford and was charged for three runs before Kenley Jensen came on to get the final three outs and earn the save.

Los Angeles put Sborz on the 10-day injured list yesterday with lower back soreness.

Sborz, 26, is in his fifth professional season since being drafted in the second round by the Dodgers in 2015. He was the Most Outstanding Player after helping Virginia win the College World Series that June. At McLean, he was named The Washington Post’s All-Met Player of the Year in 2012.

MLB Draft Update: 10 of 11 Area Draftees Have Signed Pro Contracts

Three weeks since the conclusion of the Major League Baseball Draft, 10 of the 11 area players who were taken have signed professional contracts and many have joined minor league clubs with their respective organizations.

Logan Driscoll (Lake Braddock), who became the highest-ever pick from George Mason when the catcher was taken 73rd overall by the San Diego Padres, inked a $600,000 signing bonus and has joined the Tri-City Dust Devils of the short-season Single-A Northwest League.

Two area players taken in the fourth round, outfielder Brenton Doyle (Kettle Run) and left-handed pitcher Jake Agnos (Battlefield), have also reported. Doyle signed a $500,000 bonus with Colorado and is off to a blazing start with the advanced rookie-level Grand Junction Rockies, hitting .450 (9-for-20) with two home runs and seven RBI though his first five games. Agnos inked a $411,500 bonus with the New York Yankees and has reported to their spring training complex in Tampa, FL.

Fifth-round pick Conor Grammes (McLean) signed with Arizona for $300,000 earlier this week and the right-hander is expected to receive his assignment soon. Right-handers Sam Ryan (Fairfax) and Jared DiCesare (Chantilly), who were taken by Toronto in the 12th and 17th rounds, respectively, have both signed and reported to the Blues Jays’ spring training facility in Dunedin, FL.

Others who have signed and received rookie-ball assignments include: right-hander Kevin Kelly (Paul VI Catholic), a 19th round pick of Cleveland who has reported to one of their Arizona League affiliates; right-hander Jamie Sara (West Potomac), a 25th round selection by Philadelphia who is with one of their affiliates in the Gulf Coast League; right-hander Charlie Hall (Forest Park), a 33rd round pick by Oakland who is with the A’s Arizona League club; and left-hander Carter Bach (Centreville), a 34th round pick by Tampa By who has joined their Appalachian League affiliate in Princeton, W.V.

The area’s lone high school senior taken in the draft, Woodgrove pitcher Nick Lockhart, has not signed with Texas after being selected in the 11th round. Wolverines coach Rusty Smith said earlier today that Lockhart plans to make his decision whether to sign or pitch at Virginia Tech in the next few days.

Lachance Signs Minor League Deal with Diamondbacks

Kevin Lachance (Centreville) earlier this month signed a minor league free agent contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, completing a journey back to affiliated ball after the former Dodgers draft pick spent the past year-plus playing in the independent Frontier League.

Lachance, 24, has been assigned to the Missoula Osprey of the advanced rookie-level Pioneer League after the Diamondbacks purchased his contract from the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the independent American Association. He was hitting .372 with a .509 on-base percentage, two homers and seven RBI in 13 games with Winnipeg.

The middle infielder was a 10th round pick by Los Angeles out of the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, but a shoulder injury prevented him from making his pro debut until 2017. He hit .258 in 50 games in rookie ball that year, then hit .267 in 37 games with Lake Erie during his indy ball stint last year.

Sponsor: The magazine’s Pro Notebook is sponsored by the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. For more information on the Blue Crabs, visit their website at www.somdbluecrabs.com.

Photos of, clockwise from left, Josh Sborz by Keith Birmingham via Pasadena Star-News, Brenton Doyle courtesy of KKCO in Colorado Springs, and Kevin Lachance courtesy of the Winnipeg Goldeyes

Northern Virginia Has 11 Players Selected in 2019 Major League Baseball Draft

June 5 - Seven area players were selected earlier this afternoon on the third and final day of the Major League Baseball Draft, bringing the total number of Northern Virginia players to be drafted this year to 11.

After George Mason junior catcher Logan Driscoll (Lake Braddock) was taken on the first day with the 73rd overall selection by the San Diego Padres - covered in our story here - Shepherd junior outfielder Brenton Doyle (Kettle Run), East Carolina junior left-hander Jake Agnos and Xavier pitcher Conor Grammes (McLean) were taken yesterday.

Doyle, a two-time Division II All-American at Shepherd, was taken in the fourth round (129th overall) by the Colorado Rockies to become the first-ever player from Kettle Run to be drafted. He hit .392 with 13 homers and 47 RBI in 52 games this spring after hitting .414 with 14 homers and 68 RBI in 55 games as a sophomore.

“Just a small-town boy with a dream of becoming a Major League Baseball player, and I’m extremely excited to say I’ve been given the opportunity to fulfill that dream,” Doyle posted on his Twitter handle. “I’m so thankful … I can’t wait to get to keep playing the game I love.”

Six picks later, Agnos was taken 135th overall by the New York Yankees to become the seventh player from Battlefield to be taken in the draft since 2008. The southpaw was a member of the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team last summer and this year broke both the school and American Athletic Conference single-season record for strikeouts. He’s 11-2 with a 2.02 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 98 innings entering the Pirates’ NCAA Super Regional this weekend at Louisville.

“My childhood dream has come true,” Agnos posted on his Instagram account last night. “To my coaches, teammates, family and friends, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the support.”

Grammes, a two-time state wrestling champion in high school, walked on at Xavier as a shortstop but saw his role with the Musketeers evolve as the velocity on his fastball quickly rose. He was throwing in the high 80s as a senior at McLean, then was clocked at 91 MPH in the fall of his freshman season, when Xavier coaches gave him an opportunity on the mound. By last spring he was consistently in the mid-90s and was clocked at 100 MPH while pitching in the Cape Cod League last summer.

This spring, he hit .330 with eight homers and 28 RBI as the Musketeers’ designated hitter and was 5-5 with a 3.95 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 68.1 innings.

Earlier today, seven pitchers from local schools were taken as rounds 11-40 were held to conclude the draft.

Woodgrove senior right-hander Nick Lockhart, who has signed to pitch at Virginia Tech, was taken in the 11th round (325th overall) by the Texas Rangers. The next two were selected by the Toronto Blue Jays, Virginia Commonwealth junior Sam Ryan (Fairfax) in the 12th round (357th overall) and George Mason junior Jared DiCesare (Chantilly) in the 17th round (507th overall).

In the 19th round, James Madison junior Kevin Kelly (Paul VI Catholic) was taken by the Cleveland Indians with the 580th pick. Six rounds later, the Philadelphia Phillies took William & Mary junior Jamie Sara (West Potomac) with the 750th pick. Sara was also drafted in the 12th round by San Diego in 2016, but chose instead to honor his scholarship with the Tribe.

Charlie Hall (Forest Park), who led all Division II schools in strikeouts and set a Division II record with 22 strikeouts in a game earlier this spring, was selected in the 33rd round (1,004th overall) by the Oakland A’s. At 24, Hall was one of the oldest players to be drafted. Wake Forest junior lefty Carter Bach (Centreville) was the final area player to be selected, going in the 34th round (1,028th overall) to the Tampa Bay Rays. The 6-foot-7 Bach’s older brother, Connor, was a 21st round pick of the Washington Nationals in 2014 and pitched for four years in the Nationals and Miami Marlins systems.

Doyle, Agnos and DiCesare join Joe Rizzo (Oakton) and Khalil Lee (Flint Hill) as members of the 2016 NOVA Nine Team who have been drafted. Rizzo and Lee were taken out of high school that spring, going in the second round to Seattle and the third round to Kansas City, respectively.

Each of the college players taken retain a year of eligibility and will have the option to return to school for their senior year should they not sign. All drafted players have until Aug. 15 or until they enroll as a full-time student, whichever comes first, to sign their contracts. If they don’t, they will become eligible for next year’s draft.  

Photos of area players selected in the MLB Draft courtesy of their respective programs

Note: Graph below displays better on desktop or when mobile device is flipped horizontally.

2019 MLB Draft Results Northern Virginia Players Selected
Round Pick Team Name Position High School College
CBB 73 San Diego Logan Driscoll C Lake Braddock George Mason
4 129 Colorado Brenton Doyle OF Kettle Run Shepard
4 135 New York (AL) Jake Agnos LHP Battlefield East Carolina
5 152 Arizona Conor Grammes RHP McLean Xavier
11 325 Texas Nick Lockhart RHP Woodgrove --
12 357 Toronto Sam Ryan RHP Fairfax Virginia Commonwealth
17 507 Toronto Jared DiCesare RHP Chantilly George Mason
19 580 Cleveland Kevin Kelly RHP Paul VI Catholic James Madison
25 750 Philadelphia Jamie Sara RHP West Potomac William & Mary
33 1004 Oakland Charlie Hall RHP Forest Park Tusculum
34 1028 Tampa Bay Carter Bach LHP Centreville Wake Forest
SOURCE: Major League Baseball

MLB Draft: Grammes, Doyle, Agnos Likely to be Selected on Day 2

June 4 - Logan Driscoll was the first Northern Virginia player selected in the Major League Baseball Draft yesterday, and several area players are expected to be taken as the 40-round draft begins its second round this afternoon.

According to two MLB scouts who requested not to be identified, East Carolina left-hander Jake Agnos (Battlefield) and Xavier fireballer Conor Grammes (McLean) could be taken early today. Also expected to go soon is outfielder Brenton Doyle (Kettle Run), a two-time Division II All-American at Shepherd.

George Mason’s Jared DiCesare (Chantilly) and James Madison’s Kevin Kelly (Paul VI Catholic) are two right-handers who could also be drafted today, when rounds 3-10 are selected. Another pitcher to watch is Marshall righty Trey Alderman (Forest Park).

Agnos, Grammes, Doyle, DiCesare, Kelly and Alderman all have one year of college eligibility remaining.

Two college seniors, Virginia third baseman Nate Eikhoff (Patriot) and Shepard outfielder Nick Atkinson (Osbourn Park), both have a good chance to be drafted. It’s unknown if they will be selected today or tomorrow, when rounds 11-40 are held.

A wild card could be Woodgrove’s 6-foot-7, 230-pound right-hander Nick Lockhart, a Virginia Tech recruit who was in San Diego last weekend to throw for members of the Padres’ front office and scouting staffs.

Stone Bridge outfielder Paul Moore (Walters State), Lake Braddock right-hander and outfielder Lyle Miller-Green (George Mason) and Battlefield shortstop and right-hander Zach Agnos (East Carolina) are other high schoolers with at least some potential of being taken.

Driscoll, a Lake Braddock graduate and junior catcher at George Mason, was selected late last night with the 73rd overall pick by the San Diego Padres. He became the Patriots’ highest draft pick in program history.

Northern Virginia has now had a player selected in the first three rounds in five of the past six years. The third round starts today at 1 p.m. and can be followed online here.

Photos of, from left, Shepard’s Brenton Doyle, Xavier’s Conor Grammes and East Carolina’s Jake Agnos courtesy of their respective athletic departments

Driscoll Becomes George Mason’s Highest MLB Draft Pick, Taken 73rd by Padres

June 4 - Logan Driscoll was selected 73rd overall by the San Diego Padres last night in the Major League Baseball Draft, becoming the highest-ever selection from George Mason University.

A two-time first-team All-Atlantic 10 Conference pick, the Lake Braddock graduate was chosen nine picks earlier than another former Patriots catcher, Chris Widger, was taken the third round in 1992 by the Seattle Mariners. Widger played in the Majors for 10 seasons, serving as the starting backstop with the Montreal Expos in the late 1990s and winning a World Series as a backup with the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

“Logan is an incredibly talented and dedicated player,” George Mason coach Bill Brown wrote via text late last night. “He is focused on being the best and I am excited for him that it has paid off for him by being the highest drafted player ever from George Mason.”

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound left-handed hitting Driscoll was the fourth catcher picked on the first day of the three-day draft, following top overall selection Adley Rutschman from Oregon State, who was taken by the Baltimore Orioles, as well as Baylor’s Shea Langeliers (9th overall, Atlanta) and California’s Korey Lee (32nd overall, Houston).

“There’s obviously been some great players to come through George Mason,” Driscoll said in an interview with the school’s media relations department. “I’m just lucky to have come to George Mason, and Skip really allowed me to play the game and develop and really just compete comfortably and have fun while doing it.”

Driscoll hit .343 with 12 doubles, nine home runs and 33 RBI in 47 games this spring. Over his three seasons at the Fairfax school, he hit .337 with 188 hits - including 58 that went for extra bases - and 108 RBI.

One of San Diego’s coaches is Keith Werman, who was an All-Met catcher at Oakton and later played second base while helping Virginia make College World Series appearances in 2009 and 2011.

George Mason has produced six Major Leaguers. Los Angeles Angels first baseman Justin Bour (Westfield) is in his sixth big league season, while Chris O’Grady appeared as a reliever with the Miami Marlins the previous two seasons. Mike Draper made 29 relief appearances with the New York Mets in 1993, Mike Colangelo (C.D. Hylton) played with three teams from 1999-2002 and Shawn Camp (Robinson) pitched for five clubs for 11 seasons from 2004-14.

Brown hopes Driscoll will soon join that group.

“He will do special things in professional baseball,” the coach wrote. “We are all ready to follow him as he begins his journey to the big leagues.”

Photo of Logan Driscoll courtesy of George Mason Athletics

Pitchers Sborz, Clarke Promoted to Major Leagues

April 20 - Josh Sborz and Taylor Clarke, who were selected two picks apart in the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft, have been called up by their respective big league clubs.

Sborz, a McLean graduate and the Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series after helping Virginia win its first national championship in 2015, received his first promotion to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday. He struck out nine in four innings over his two relief outings at Triple-A Oklahoma City, but has yet to make an appearance out of the Dodgers’ bullpen. He’s wearing No. 76 in his first stint with the club.

In 2012, Sborz was named The Washington Post’s All-Met Player of the Year after going 9-2 with three saves, a 0.84 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 58.2 innings and hitting .422 with seven home runs and 28 RBI. He finished his career with the Highlanders with 20 victories and 20 homers.

“He’s off to a good start, fresh arm,” manager Dave Roberts told reporters on Sunday, after the club announced it was sending Dennis Santana down and adding Sborz to the 25-man roster. “Dennis did what he did but he’s going to be down for a few days. So we get Josh here, it is exciting for him, his family and we are going to run him out there.”

Sborz is the second member of his family to make it to the big leagues. His brother, Jay, was a second round pick of Detroit in 2003 after a standout career at Langley. He made one appearances with the Tigers in 2010.

Clarke, meanwhile, was called up this morning by the Arizona Diamondbacks after they optioned utility player Tim Locastro after last night’s game. He had made three starts at Triple-A Reno, where he was 13-8 with a 4.03 ERA in 27 starts last year, and is currently listed as the organization’s No. 10 prospect by MLB.com.

Clarke, 25, will wear uniform No. 45 and will be in the Diamondbacks’ bullpen for their 2:20 p.m. game today at the Chicago Cubs. He is the second recent Broad Run alum to make it to the big leagues. Conor Mullee made three appearances with the New York Yankees in 2016.

Both right-handers are in their fifth professional seasons after Sborz was taken 74th overall by Los Angeles and Clarke was selected 76th by Arizona out of the College of Charleston in 2015.

Photos of Taylor Clarke, left, and Josh Sborz, right, courtesy of MiLB.com

Kamide’s Korner: Harper’s (Br)exit Could be Snyder, Guyer’s Gain

March 5 - Count me among those disappointed that Bryce Harper chose to sign with the Phillies and won’t be returning to the middle of the Nationals’ order this year. For me, Harper’s at-bats were must-see anytime I was able to take in a Nats game.

Several years ago, I took a date to a game and we were late arriving to Nationals Park. Of course, the Baseball Gods punished me and we missed Harper homering in the first inning. A few innings later, painfully-slow bartending at the Red Porch cost me his second upper-deck bomb that day.

After that, whenever I was watching or listening to a Nats game, I ensured I was tuned in to his at-bats. I also stopped seeing that young lady - us baseball guys are superstitious, after all, and there was just too much bad juju involved with missing two Harper homers while attending our first game together.

The emotion shown by area baseball fans over the past week demonstrates how polarizing a figure Harper was while in D.C. - love him or hate him, you were and likely will continue to be drawn to him. He’s a generational talent and has that “it” factor that makes it hard to take your eyes off him when he’s in the batter’s box. Who knows if the Nats will be better or worse off without him - you certainly won’t struggle to find commentary online covering that topic - but one thing is for sure, I’ll miss watching him wear the Curly W on his cap.

While Harper’s exit has resulted in varying emotions locally, it could lead to some positive news for Northern Virginia fans.

Over the winter, Washington signed former Westfield star Brandon Snyder to a minor league deal and invited him to big league camp as he tries to make the Majors with a sixth team. If Harper had re-signed with the Nats, that likely would have sealed Snyder’s fate as a Triple-A guy to start the year. Instead, Snyder, who in spring training has logged more time than anyone in Harper’s old post in right field, could make the club as the Nats’ fifth outfielder and a backup option at both corner infield spots.

Snyder has certainly taken advantage of Harper’s absence. His go-ahead grand slam was the difference in a 10-6 win over the Twins on Saturday, and he entered the day hitting .286 with six RBI in 18 at-bats this spring.

Also affected by Harper’s decision is Brandon Guyer, the former Herndon and UVA standout.

The White Sox were rumored to be in on the Bryce Sweepstakes (as well as Manny Machado), but by not landing him, Guyer’s chances of making the club improved after he was signed in early February to a minor league deal with an invite to camp. Guyer, the former Rays and Indians outfielder, is back in the lineup today as a DH after missing 10 days with right elbow soreness, and he is hoping to make Chicago’s roster in a platoon role against lefties.

Like many baseball fans in our area, I’ll miss Harp. But I’ve already moved on, and I’ve found a new guy that’ll motivate me to get to the ballpark on time. I’ve got my Juan Soto T-shirt on order.

Hopefully, I’ll also have my Snyder and Guyer T-shirts on order early next month.