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18-year-old Senator: Bryce Harper promoted to Double-A

How patriotic: Bryce Harper(notes) impressed the Washington Nationals so much, they made him a Senator on the Fourth of July.

A Harrisburg Senator, that is.

Harper dominated so thoroughly at Class A Hagerstown, the Nats skipped him a level — bypassing advanced Class A Potomac — for their Double-A club in Harrisburg, Pa. His first Eastern League game is Monday night against Erie, an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.

Update: Harper went 2 for 3 with a run scored and walk — while playing left field, instead of his usual right. He's 1-0 in Double-A.

What a week for the 18-year-old megaprospect, who already knew he was headed to Phoenix to represent the Washington Nationals at the Futures Game, which is part of Major League Baseball's All-Star Game festivities.

Harper, also a South Atlantic League All-Star who was batting .318/.423/.977 for Hagerstown, clearly is ready to try something more challenging.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson, as quoted by MASN's Ben Goessling, says:

"(Big league camp) didn't intimidate him in spring training," Johnson said. "The competition level at Double-A is about where he should be. He's going to be challenged, and I think he needs to be challenged."

It's too bad for the Potomac team and its fans who thought Harper might stop in Woodbridge, Va., for the second half of the season. Some thought that poor field conditions at their home park might have had something to do with being skipped. (The Nats say not true.)

Besides, Bryce Harper wasn't promised to any one team. He's for all of us to share!

So, just how rare is it for an 18-year-old to play at such a level of baseball?

18-year-old Senator: Bryce Harper promoted to Double-AAs Aaron Gleeman reports at Hardball Talk:

• The average Class AA player is 24 years old.

• Only two other hitters in the Eastern League are under 21, and Harper is the only teen.

Because of his youth, Harper's success so far is a strong indicator of future success. But don't get too excited about seeing Harper at a major league park (aside from Chase Field on Sunday) sometime this summer.

Nats' GM/killjoy Mike Rizzo said Harper will probably play the rest of 2011 at Double-A, and will play at Triple-A at some point. Which, as the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore points out on Twitter, rules out making the opening day roster for the major league team.

Fair enough. He's still learning to play the outfield, and his strikeout rate is kind of high.

He'll be in the majors soon, though, probably before he turns 20. Today a Senator. Tomorrow, who knows?

Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave — and engage the Stew on Facebook

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