Very soon the 2009 amateur baseball draft will be complete.

Also very soon, the eyes of the baseball world will turn to 2010 and beyond.

That future includes 16-year old Bryce Harper, the Las Vegas High catcher, pitcher and centerfielder who many believe could have been the second overall pick in this year’s draft. Also, if the scouts want to keep an eye on Harper this summer, they won’t find him in Las Vegas.

Harper, who played for Westmoore coach Kevin Winterrowd during last summer’s USA Baseball trials, is playing for Westmoore Black, of the Pure Prairie League, this summer.

As a sophomore at Las Vegas High, Harper hit .626 with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs in 115 at-bats. He finished his high school season with 22 doubles, nine triples and 36 stolen bases.

Harper (6-foot-3, 205 pounds), who was recently labeled ‘Baseball’s Chosen One’ on the cover of Sports Illustrated, will only be playing for Westmoore during the summer. The 16-year old has no intention of moving to Oklahoma to attend high school.

Still, Harper will join his Jaguar teammates today as they begin competition in the Moore Tournament, which lasts through Sunday at Moore High School.

Wednesday, in the Jaguars’ last game before the Moore Tournament, Harper put on mini-show. In front of a packed crowd at Westmoore, he drilled a homer in his first at bat against Putnam City West. Two at bats later, he broke his stick, which brought out a gasp from the fans.

Moore coach David Hinckley said he expects the same type of attention to spill over into the Lions’ tourney.

“Obviously we want as many people to come out and watch summer baseball as possible,” Hinckley said. “The fact he will be there will increase attendance. People want to come out and see him for themselves.”

The Jaguars join Yukon II, Blanchard, Chickasha and host Moore in Pool 2. Southmoore, Edmond North, Choctaw, Yukon I and Putnam City North are in Pool 1.

The tournament begins at 9 a.m. with Edmond North and Choctaw meeting. Southmoore and PCN take the field at 11:20 p.m. Fans eager to get a glimpse of Harper will get their first chance at 4 p.m. when the Jags and Chickasha meet. The Lions and Blanchard close out the first day of action at 8:40 p.m.

“This is a varsity tournament. Every school treats it differently. When you play a tournament, you want kids to show they can play hard over four days,” Hinckley said. “(You want to) see how they perform in tough situations.”

The winners of Pool 1 and Pool 2 will meet for the title at 6:15 p.m. Sunday.

The Jaguars will be stronger with the addition of Harper.

He arrived Monday and in a doubleheader against the OKC Broncos went 6-for-6 with six RBIs, two home runs and a triple. The Jags won the first game 11-3 but loss 5-4 in the nightcap.

Even with one of the nation’s best players, a tourney title is hardly guaranteed.

“The thing you have to understand is that summer ball is not as intense as it is in the spring,” Hinckley said. “There will be other teams that can compete. It will be a fun tourney. If we get great crowds, we’ll all be excited.”

Michael Kinney

366-3537

mkinney@normantranscript.com

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