The Arizona Wildcats were one of the surprise teams in college baseball in 2004. Their trip to the depths of the College World Series surprised many fans and pundits alike. Because of how deep Arizona went, John Hardy was a little late joining the Phillies organization. In three seasons as a Wildcat, Hardy hit 12 homeruns, had 99 RBI and hit .302 while playing all over the infield.
As the Phillies scouted Hardy, they thought it best for him to play at shortstop, even though he played primarily third base and second base at Arizona. In his first season with the Phillies, he was primarily at shortstop, with some games at second base thrown into the mix.
If the name Hardy sounds familiar to minor league baseball fans, it could be because of J.J. Hardy, a top prospect in the Milwaukee organization. The two are cousins and both seem to have decent futures ahead of them.
Batting and Power: Hardy was impressive at the plate when he first arrived at Batavia. He cooled off a little, but certainly has the ability to hit in a consistent .270 to .280 range even at the major league level. He's not known for power and the Phillies don't believe he'll ever develop much power, but he'll occasionally take a pitch deep. Has a bit of an uppercut to his swing that he needs to lose.
Base running and Speed: Pitchers don't need to worry too much about Hardy on the base paths, but he can't be completely forgotten either. He's got average speed and the Phillies are working on his base stealing technique, hoping to make him a little more dangerous. He can kick it up a notch to take an extra base here and there and has the attitude to take what he can on the bases.
Defense: Not much flash, but he gets the job done. He's got good hands and is impressive at turning a double play. Hardy has good range and will generally make the plays that he's expected to make. He had a tough season – 19 errors – at Batavia, but many of those errors were because of shaky field conditions.
Projection: With a strong first season at Batavia, it's likely that Hardy will start 2005 at Lakewood. Exactly where he'll play is still up in the air and many believe that he may be at second base, considering the development of Sam Orr, who is more suited to shortstop than Hardy. Since Hardy seems completely comfortable with a wood bat, he won't need much adjustment time and will be able to handle moving along through the system. Some scouts believe that ultimately, Hardy will be a utility type player at the major league level.
ETA: 2008 or 2009. The biggest question mark is getting Hardy settled into one position and determining where he's best able to help.
Comparison: Mark DeRosa. Hardy figures to be a guy who will burn opposing teams at times and will always come ready to play wherever he's needed.