Prospect Countdown: #48 Kevin Hart

Inside The Warehouse follows up on its Top 50 Prospect List with a detailed scouting report on #48 Kevin Hart

Selected in the 4th round of the 2004 draft, some observers were surprised to hear Kevin Hart declared a pitcher. He did, after all, lead the University of Maryland in hitting his junior season. But the Orioles saw some projectability in his 6'4'' frame and opted to take a look at him as a hurler. Thus far, he has struggled at times but shown enough promise to warrant inclusion on this list.

DOB: 11/29/82 Height: 6-4 Weight: 215 B/T: R/R

Kevin Hart's age 23 season:

Level IP ERA K/9 BB/9 HR/9
HiA 148.3 4.61 7.4 3.9 1.09
CL AVG. -- 4.00 6.9 3.6 0.68

Scouting

Hart's numbers could be considered solid at best, but he showed considerable promise as a fixture in Frederick's rotation. His ratio set is all pretty close to league average, despite pitching in the only hitter's park in the Orioles system. Hart also displayed an ability to induce groundballs at an above average clip (1.38 GO/AO), although he occasionally made mistakes up in the strike zone. Frederick Pitching Coach Blaine Beatty spoke highly of Hart's makeup and his contributions this season. "[Hart]'s a guy that I would definitely keep my eye on. He's got great makeup and he's probably been one of the most dependable starters I've had all year at this level. He's had a couple rough outings, but so have others. He would be the one guy to keep an eye on as far as having an outside shot."

When drafted, Hart worked with a curveball that he has largely scrapped in deference to a solid slider. He also has a good feel for when to throw his changeup, although he has not yet mastered the mechanics of it. Hart sometimes telegraphs his offspeed offerings by slowing his arm speed. Like many pitchers his age, Hart's best offering is his fastball. He rarely dials it up past 90 MPH, but he gets excellent sink on it and shows moments of being able to hit either side of the plate.

Outlook

Kevin Hart will likely head to AA Bowie to start 2007, where he'll face some competition to earn a spot in the rotation. While 23 year olds with command of three pitches don't grow on trees, Hart doesn't have any offerings that qualify as a true out pitch. Orioles officials are hopeful that Hart will either respond to a shift to relief with an added MPH or two or get there naturally as he continues to fill out his 6'4'' frame. He was more effective against right-handers, but not drastically so, making a long relief role more feasible. While Hart doesn't have a tremendous ceiling, his aptitude and work ethic make him more likely to eventually make it up to the Orioles. At the very least, he's certainly one worth rooting for.

Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com


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