Harper brothers had career years in 2015

MVP's older sibling posted 2.96 ERA and made first trip to Triple-A

March 29th, 2016
Bryan Harper was drafted by the Nationals in 2011. (MiLB.com)

JUPITER, Fla. -- While his younger brother was on a tear through the National League on his way to becoming the Most Valuable Player, Bryan Harper was also enjoying his best season in professional baseball last year. Bryan, a left-handed reliever in the Nationals' organization, rose to Triple-A for the first time in his career and posted a 2.96 ERA in 45 2/3 innings between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse. Meanwhile his brother, Bryce, established himself as one of the best players in baseball.

The Harpers usually do not talk much about baseball when they get together -- usually college football or basketball -- but it still made for an exciting time around the Harper household.

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"It was a really good time for the whole family," Bryan said during a brief stint in Major League camp this past weekend. "They got to see us perform at some pretty high levels last year. I think we just finally figured out what made us click, and it just came together for us."

Bryan has been in the Nationals' organization since 2011, and he spent about four days in Major League camp this season. He tossed a scoreless inning against the Mets during a split-squad game Sunday and added a strikeout. He attributed his success last season to pitching to contact, allowing his defense to get him outs, and he posted career lows in strikeouts and walks per nine innings, at 6.7 and 3.7, respectively.

"It definitely makes it easier going into the offseason when you do have a good year like that," Bryan said. "You're able to work out and work on things and you feel right. You know what makes you click and everything like that."

Reaching Triple-A also brought Bryan closer to his goal of reaching the Major Leagues, and perhaps one day sharing the same field with his brother again. The two, who are separated by about three years in age, played together in high school and junior college.

"I was super excited for him," Bryce said. "It's always good to see what he does and how he goes about it. He's always made his own road. I'm his brother. It's not like he's my brother or anything like that.

"He's paving his own way ... hopefully he has another great year this year, hopefully maybe get a cup of coffee [in the Majors], possibly. That's the main goal."