When scouts watched John Hardy throughout his college career, there was nothing spectacular that stood out about him. However, there were no glaring holes either. Instead, what they saw was a solid player who has potential to at least be a utility player in the majors and perhaps more.
Hardy got a bit of an extended look as a member of the surprising Arizona team that advanced to the College World Series. It was quite a run that gave Hardy a little more exposure to show off his 5-31-.308 junior season style. Perhaps, Arizona's advance to the CWS also gave Hardy the feeling that it was time for him to try the pro game and signed with the Phillies rather than returning to Arizona for his senior year. It was a decision that Hardy had faced earlier when the Orioles drafted him in the 11th round of the 2001 Draft.
The Phillies believe that Hardy can play second, short or third and that he may be best suited to playing at shortstop. In college, he was mainly at second and third, but he has good enough range to play at short, although he likely won't hit as much as many major league shortstops. Actually, his versatility will likely serve him well throughout his career and he could see action at all three spots as early as 2005.
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Acquired: Drafted out of the University of Arizona in the 7th round of the 2004 Draft. Originally drafted by Baltimore in the 11th round of the 2001 Draft.
Batting and Power: Hardy has never shown much of a power potential. He'll go deep here and there, but can't be counted on for many homeruns. He is a solid hitter and he knows how to get on base. His strikeout numbers are a little high and the Phillies will work with him on becoming a little more disciplined at the plate. When it comes to the fundamentals of moving a base runner or getting down a bunt, Hardy is in great shape.
Baserunning and Speed: In college, Hardy stole a total of 22 bases in 35 attempts. He doesn't have great speed, but he is slightly above average, especially once he gets his legs churning. Don't look for much from him in the stolen base department, but he can be aggressive and grab an extra base here and there.
Defense: The Phillies and many baseball scouts believe Hardy has enough range to handle the shortstop position. He showed in college that he can be adequate, but again, not spectacular at both second and third base. The Phillies may try to keep him at short, but he may wind up playing a number of positions.
Projection: Look for Hardy to be at Lakewood to start the '05 campaign. Long-term, some believe if he is to settle into one position, it may be second base and that he could be a decent number two hitter who could move a runner along, get on base himself and possibly score a good amount of runs.
ETA: It's likely that Hardy will move through the system in a pretty timely manner. He should be in major league camp by 2008 and may get an audition sometime during that season depending on what's going on.
Comparison: Hardy is built in the mode of Kevin Stocker. While Stocker's career started with a bang and then fizzled, Hardy should have more staying power and wind up with a decent major league career before all is said and done. At worst, he should be an above average utility player.