HARRISBURG -- Bryce Harper once fist-bumped a baseball writer during a game after hitting a home run.
That's the kind of access author Rob Miech had while researching and writing his book, 'The Last Natural: Bryce Harper's Big Gamble in Sin City and the Greatest Amateur Season Ever.'
Miech, a former Las Vegas newspaper writer, chronicles Harper's one season of junior college baseball -- in 2010 -- at the College of Southern Nevada.
CSN head coach Tim Chambers allowed Miech to become a part of the team, knowing it would be a once-in-a-lifetime ride; with Harper leading the way. The author was at every practice and traveled on every road trip, including the JUCO World Series; Miech even sat in the dugout during games -- that's how he was able to stand in line and fist-bump Harper after a great play.
He saw Harper destroy junior college pitching; the then-17-year-old, who left high school early, slugged 31 home runs and solidified himself as the top amateur player in the country and a sure-fire number-one overall draft pick.
Miech also discovered Chambers had to establish two sets of rules: one for Bryce and another for the rest of the team.
"He had no other way to coach; without keeping his sanity," said Miech, who lives in Henderson, Nevada, during a telephone call with CBS 21 News Sports Director Jason Bristol. "He gave Bryce such a long leash; and I document more than a few times in (the book), when that leash became very taught."
It was all part of the maturation process for Harper, however; Miech believes Harper's experience at CSN helped prepare him for the rigors of professional baseball and the major leagues.
Harper, who played 37 games for Harrisburg in 2011, hit .270 with 22 home runs and 18 stolen bases for Washington this season and won the National League's Rookie of the Year award.
'The Last Natural' is a finalist for the 2012 CASEY Award for best baseball book of the year, sponsored by Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine.
Miech says Harper still keeps in touch with many of his CSN teammates. He has not spoken with Harper since the book has been released.