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Harper fully invested in future with Phillies

@ToddZolecki
February 26, 2020

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Bryce Harper and Alec Bohm leaned onto the railing in the Phillies dugout Monday at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, just a couple of former first-round Draft picks chatting during an early Grapefruit League game. To be a sunflower seed in the dugout and hear that conversation,

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Bryce Harper and Alec Bohm leaned onto the railing in the Phillies dugout Monday at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, just a couple of former first-round Draft picks chatting during an early Grapefruit League game.

To be a sunflower seed in the dugout and hear that conversation, huh?

“We were talking about the Harper 4s, my cleats,” Harper revealed. “We were talking about the Harper 5s, too. They’re coming out. We don’t really talk baseball much, man. I just want to get to know him as a person. I talked to him about college baseball. Get to know what he likes. What his interests are. The baseball stuff will come. I’m not really a hands-on person, where I’m like, ‘Dude, you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that.’ He’s here for a reason. I want to let him be himself.”

Harper’s chat with Bohm and others like it show his investment in the Phillies, beyond his financial commitment following the 13-year, $330 million contract he signed last February. Harper insisted on no opt-out clause and a full no-trade clause in the deal because he wants to settle in one place and grow his family there. But he seems to have a handle on everything happening in the organization, including the farm system. Harper mentioned on his first day in camp that the Phillies cannot afford to trade for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant because they need to keep Bohm and top pitching prospect Spencer Howard in the pipeline.

He has mentioned other prospects along the way, too.

“I can talk about high school guys, I can talk about college guys in this year’s Draft and things like that,” Harper said. “A lot of good pitchers in this year’s Draft. A lot of good position guys as well. I really enjoy that side of the game. Maybe because I enjoy the game of baseball. But I do like that side of the game because I’ve been there. It’s tough. You’re going to grind through the Minor Leagues. You’re going to grind through the college ranks and things like that. I want them to be as comfortable as they can walking into this clubhouse every single day. And if they’re able to do that, then they’re going to help us perform. They’re part of our group and it all starts here in Spring Training.”

So how far can Harper go? Can he name the organization’s Top 10 or Top 30 prospects?

“Oh, man,” Harper said. “I don’t know.”

But how does he know these guys? It’s not that other players don’t, it’s just that Harper seems to drop their names into conversations -- he mentioned pitching prospect Damon Jones the other day -- with some regularity.

“I think just talking to Johnny [Almaraz, former amateur scouting director] or talking to some other guys, seeing from afar, seeing guys that we’ve drafted,” Harper said. “But also looking at [Arizona] Fall League and things like that. I enjoy it. As a player that’s going to be here for a long time, I want to be able to do that. I want to be able to be here and let them know that they’re part of our team and they’re a part of our organization. And I want them to feel welcome. I want their families to feel welcome. That’s the Phillie Way, I believe. Anybody that can help us in the Minor Leagues -- he can be off the Top 10 or off the Top 30 and be our 50th-best guy down there, but we could strike gold with him. You never know. There’s been many guys like that in the league, undrafted guys, things like that. So, anybody that can help us, I’m all for it.”

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook .