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The Week Ahead: Bryce Harper countdown begins

On his way ...


Let the Bryce Harper countdown begin.

Harper, the 16-year-old Las Vegas high school star who was christened as the "Chosen One" by Sports Illustrated, is planning to skip his final two seasons of high school in an attempt to be eligible for the 2010 draft.

According to Harper's father Ron, the phenom has registered at College of Southern Nevada and will play for the junior college next season in what would have been his junior year of high school.

Harper plans to earn his GED (high school equivalency) in the fall.

Harper, a 6-foot-3-inch catcher, hit .626 with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs for the Wildcats this season. He also had 36 stolen bases.

With his combination of power and speed, Harper is projected to be the top pick in the major league draft when he's eligible. That should be next June.

The No. 1 pick a 17-year-old from Vegas? It's possible. In the SI story, an NL scouting director said Harper would have challenged Stephen Strasburg for the No. 1 pick this year, at only age 16.

"Top two," he says. "And that's taking nothing away from the guys in the draft this year. He's honestly that good. He is a once-in-a-generation talent."

So let the race for Bryce Harper begin. Leading the way, once again, are your Washington Nationals. At 16-45, the Nats have a healthy 8½ game lead over the next-worst team, the Arizona Diamondbacks (27-37).

FIVE SERIES TO WATCH


  • Brewers at Indians, June 15-17: The teams meet for just the second time since 2001 and Harry Doyle (aka Bob Eucker) will throw out the first pitch on Monday night. It's "Major League" night after all. Don't forget to pick up your Rick Vaughn bobblehead. I'm not kidding.
  • White Sox at Cubs, June 16-18: It's the battle for the Windy City. And judging by the standings at this point, most of the wind is being generated by wild hacks and Ozzie Guillen.
  • Tigers at Cardinals, June 16-18: Not only is this a rematch of the 2006 World Series, but both teams are currently in playoff contention.
  • Braves at Red Sox, June 19-21: The Red Sox don't know if John Smoltz will return to the majors this week. I suppose it would be too much to ask for the veteran to take the mound against his former team over the weekend. Even if it doesn't happen this week, Atlanta writers are anticipating a possible start at Turner Field on June 28.
  • Dodgers at Angels, June 19-21: It's the Freeway Series, which is sort of a laid-back, West Coast version of the Subway Series. Don't expect to hear Ramon Troncoso complaining about Brian Fuentes' "tired act."

    ON THE TUBE

    Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET: Brewers at Indians (ESPN)
    Wednesday, 7:05 p.m.: Blue Jays at Phillies (ESPN)
    *Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Brewers at Tigers (FOX)
    *Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Cardinals at Royals (FOX)
    *Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Rays at Mets (FOX)
    Sunday, 1:30 p.m.: Braves at Red Sox (TBS)
    Sunday, 8:05 p.m.: Dodgers at Angels (ESPN)
    *Check local listings

    And finally, for some fantasy tips for this week, click here.