Brett Harper Turning Heads in Arizona Fall League

Brett Harper knows where he is.<br> <br> "This is the best of the best down here. If your organization has confidence in you, and you put up numbers, they send you here. It's the best pitching, the best hitters, the only thing a lot of guys here really need work on is defense." Harper said this week from Mesa, AZ where his Peoria Saguaros were warming up before an Arizona Fall League game.

And what is Harper here for?

"I'm learning so much about the game. Some guys say that when you get to this point you already know everything, but I'm still learning, and I want to still be learning."

Specifically Harper is learning about hitting. "I'm trying to let the ball get deeper in the hitting zone, just trusting that my hands are quick enough to get through and drive the ball."

Harper had always been a prospect the Mets had their eye on, but this past season his numbers, and his power numbers specifically, exploded. True to the nature of a kid still learning, he knows why. "After last season my dad [former Minnesota Twins catcher Brian Harper] and I sat down and worked on my swing, trying to get more power out of it. I did my time in the weight room, and upped those workouts, but really it was my dad and I changing my swing that I think really helped."

Some organizations worry about too many chefs spoiling the sauce, but the Mets have had absolutely no problems with Harper being tutored by...Harper. "I think the Mets know that the best way to learn hitting is by working with hitters, so they have been happy my dad and I are working together. He's there for advice, he's there to help me stay confident."

So Harper is hitting, and hitting well, what is it that AFL can give him? "You're always working on hitting, but I've got to get better in the field. The Mets are a National League team, there's no DH here. I'm a first baseman, so I'm involved in a lot of plays. The better I am in the field, the more valuable I'll be to the team."

Watching Harper, you can see the work ethic. During warm ups everybody gets their work in, and then there's time to hang out, talk with the other players, catch up, but the younger Harper is at first, taking ground ball after ground ball. He looks comfortable.

"I'm getting that way," Harper says with a smile, "but I know there's more work to be done." And then he begs off the interview to...take more ground balls.

Harper is easy to talk to, there's no arrogance, no cockiness about him, but when infield practice is over and the reporter is still there, its obvious he's ready for the interview to be done, but the last question is also easily answered. The Mets had officially moved Mike Piazza to first, where does that leave Harper?

"He's one of the best hitters in the league, but I can't worry about who's in front of me. Nobody knows what's going to happen. If I start thinking about the guys ahead of me, I'm in trouble, everyone down here is behind somebody up in the big leagues, we're all in the same boat. I work hard, I produce, and the Mets are watching," he points up toward the stands where six or seven scouts watch the players work out, "the better I play, the more they will notice. If I'm good enough they'll find a place for me to play."

For Harper, that place could be Shea sooner than later.

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