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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

June 15, 2009 at 5:52 PM

More thoughts on the Bryce Harper situation

Sorry, I’ve been flying from San DIego to Denver, and working on a column for tomorrow’s paper. To answer some of the questions that popped up in my previous post about Bryce Harper leaving school after his sophomore year in order to become eligible for the draft:

Yes, players from other countries can sign when they are 16 years old (just as players from countries that participate in the draft — U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico — are eligible to be drafted when they are 16, provided they have graduated high school. Jeremy Bonderman of Pasco High School in the Tri-Cities was the one who pioneered the GED route to the draft. The A’s took him in the first round in 2001 after his junior year; he is the only high school junior ever selected in the draft. But Bonderman was the normal age of high school seniors, because of a year’s delay in his schooling, as I understand it).

It’s not a double standard for me. I think 16 is too young for an American or a Latin teenager to start a professional career. I know it happens in tennis, too — but it’s too young for them, too. And we’ve seen the burnout issues that prove it. Just check out out the saga of Jennifer Capriati to see the potential pitfalls .

But I acknowledge that what Harper is trying to do seems to be within the rules. As usual, Scott Boras has found a loophole to exploit. I don’t to come off as an old fuddy-duddy. Harper will probably be just fine. But I just don’t see the need to leave high school a full two years early andventure out into pro ball as a true high-school junior. The money will still be there the next year, and Harper would have a chance to experience all the normal fun of being a senior, going to prom and graduating with his buddies. Sorry, that’s how I feel.

Speaking of Boras, when active college baseball players get an agent, they’re called an “advisor” to get around the prohibition against agents. You’re fine, until the agent, or “advisor,” starts talking to major-league teams on your behalf. Once they start to negotiate a contract, that ends the player’s ability to return to school. That’s why even players with eligibility left, like Stephen Strasburg, would have to play independent ball next year if he didn’t sign with the Nationals, rather than return for his senior year at San Diego State (same with Dustin Ackley, also a college junior, and the Mariners’ pick right behind Strasburg).

Or would they? There is an important court case going on right now in which a college baseball player (Andrew Oliver of Oklahoma State) is arguing that he should be allowed to have representation. And apparently on the way to winning. Here’s more on the Oliver case and its ramifications.

Locker, however, is wise not to push this, because what he really wants to do is play quarterback for the Huskies, not challenge the NCAA. Just let his family do the negotiating, and let Andrew Oliver do the dirty work.

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