Q&A with Brett Harper

With the coming and going of the trade deadline and with the depletion of so many good Mets' prospects, many Mets fans have been left wondering who do we have left? Brett Harper is a name that is probably not familiar to most Mets fans, but his performance this year is very encouraging and puts him in top prospect contention.

Since June 4 (through August 3rd), Brett Harper is hitting .341 with 11 home runs and 65 RBI's. In 13 games with Binghamton he has 14 RBI's. Simply put Brett Harper is developing into a slugging first baseman. His defense is still a work in progress but he gives 100% every time he is on the field and he has made tremendous improvements as a defensive first baseman. The only real knock against Harper is that he won't win any foot races any time soon (unless they're against Jason Phillips).

Brett is the son of former major league catcher Brian Harper who played for seven teams between 1979 and 1995. He played in two World Series capturing the ring in 1991 when he was the starting catcher for the Minnesota Twins. Brian batted over.290 for seven consecutive years, over .300 for three consecutive years and was a career .295 hitter so Brett is doing well in the gene department. However, this year Brett is stepping out of any and all shadows and making a name for himself as an up and coming slugger in the Mets organization. In the first game of Sunday's doubleheader against New Britain he had the game winning hit when he drove in two runs and then made a great defensive play at first base when he dove towards the line and took an extra base hit away leading the B-Mets to a sweep of the doubleheader. Brett just turned 23 and is at least two or three years away from the majors. Nevertheless, Met fans should be impressed and comforted by this young talent who keeps getting better. After the doubleheader in which he went 1 for 4 with two walks, two runs batted in, and one run scored I sat down for a Q&A with B-Mets first baseman Brett Harper.

NYF: You lost three of your five starting pitchers last week. What are your thoughts on the recent moves the Mets have made?

Harper: I know. It's unbelievable. I can't believe they did all that. That's baseball, but I hve never been apart of anything like that before. But that's business.

NYF: What do you know about the players the Mets are getting in return?

Harper: I just know them from seeing highlights on Baseball Tonight.

NYF: What do you think of Zambrano?

Harper: He's definitely got some good stuff but I haven't seen him enough to know that much about him.

NYF: Your father was a major league catcher. How much of an impact has he had on your life?

Harper: Everything. He has without a doubt been the biggest impact on my life.

NYF: You got to grow up around major league ball players which is every kid's fantasy, certainly mine. Did you ever have a favorite player growing up?

Harper: My dad.

NYF: That's too easy. Anyone besides your dad?

Harper: Not really. I didn't have a favorite player. I thought all the guys were great.

NYF: What was the coolest thing you got to do growing up?

Harper: Being in the middle of the pile jumping around after the Twins won the World Series.

NYF: Does your dad still give you advice?

Harper: Yeah, every night. I talk to him after every game. We talk about my at bats and what's going on. He helps me if I'm struggling.

NYF: Is there any level of competition between you and your dad?

Harper: No not at all. I'm trying to get to the big leagues and he's trying to help me.

NYF: Last year you were sent back down to rookie ball and then you had to work your way back up through the system. Was being sent down disappointing and has it made your first time AA all the more sweet?

Harper: It wasn't disappointing. Last year was very much a numbers game. I knew what was going on and I knew that if I wanted to move up in the organization I was going to have to improve every aspect of my game so I was very clear on what I had to do. Getting a chance at AA is just one more way for me to know that my hard work has paid off.

NYF: You were originally a third baseman. Why the move to first?

Harper: That was the organization's decision. They wanted me to make that move and I had no objection to it.

NYF: How hard was it to make the adjustment across the diamond?

Harper: It was very difficult at first. I had to learn a whole new position. I had to put in a lot of hard work and time into it.

NYF: Would you classify your defense as a work in progress?

Harper: For sure. I'm still doing a lot of work over there but I'm getting better.

NYF: You field righty and bat lefty. Which are you naturally?

Harper: I'm right handed for everything but when I was younger my dad taught me to hit lefty.

NYF: Can you hit from the right side at all?

Harper: Not at all.

NYF: First base is traditionally a left handed position. What, if any, adjustments have you had to make to compensate for the glove being on the left hand?

Harper: It hasn't bothered me too much. I think even as a righty I can play a good first base. I don't feel like I've had to compensate for anything.

NYF: In your mind what's the biggest difference between A and AA?

Harper: Finer pitching. Pitchers hit their spots better and more often. The hitters are better. The hitters are more patient and everything is a little bit better-quality.

NYF: In your first three years of pro ball you had 42 walks total. Already this year you have surpassed that mark? What, in your mind, is the reason for that?

Harper: Patience, maturing as a hitter, knowing the strike zone better, waiting for my pitch, or for the pitcher to make a mistake have all been huge parts of that equation.

NYF: You have hit for a lot more power this year. You have more doubles and more HR's. What do you attribute that to?

Harper: Working out. Strength, fine tuning a couple of things in my swing, and working with my dad have all really paid off and made me a better hitter.

NYF: Talk about what it is like to be promoted to a team in a pennant race and enter a clubhouse that has a winning attitude and championship mentality.

Harper: It makes everything more fun. Everybody concentrates more, and a little harder, and you know every play is important and means something.

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