Top Prospect #25: John Hardy

Teams can always use hard-nosed utility players who can play a number of positions. John Hardy fits that bill, but he could also be good enough to play everyday at shortstop... or second... or third. Settling into one position may be the toughest challenge for Hardy.

John Hardy has shown that he has plenty of versatility. The problem with that is that sometimes, a player who plays all over never really finds one true home and gets pigeon-holed as a utility player. Because of his versatility, Hardy could fall into that category. One thing that would keep that from happening is for him to put up big enough offensive numbers that the Phillies find a definite home for him and tout him as a prospect at that position. In 2005, Hardy didn't really do that, especially when challenged with a promotion to Lakewood. His overall numbers make him look more like a utility player.

In 2006, Hardy will have to show that he has conquered his offensive troubles that plagued him last season in order to truly establish himself as a prospect in the organization. If he can't succeed at Lakewood this season, then there is definite trouble on the horizon for Hardy.

'04 Batavia 1 13 .272 51 191 21 52 7 4 5 24 45 .356
'05 Lakewood 0 6 .107 39 131 12 14 4 1 2 12 28 .188
'05 Batavia 0 17 .295 36 139 11 41 10 2 3 8 21 .336
Career 1 36 .232 126 461 44 107 21 7 10 44 94 .303

Acquired: Drafted out of the University of Arizona by the Phillies in the 7th round of the 2004 Draft. Was previously drafted by Baltimore in the 11th round of the 2001 Draft.

Batting and Power: The Phillies worked with Hardy on his plate discipline and he showed good progress in cutting down on his stirkeouts, but his walks didn't increase the way they had hoped. Part of the decrease in strikeouts came from cutting down on his swing. If he can develop a better eye at the plate, he'll help himself immensely. Power simply isn't a part of Hardy's game plan. It never really has been and the Phillies didn't count on him to develop power in the minors.

Baserunning and Speed: Hardy doesn't swipe many bases, but he does have slightly above average speed. He's a good enough baserunner to take an extra base here and there and can be aggressive enough on the bases to help his team without getting himself into trouble.

Defense: Hardy played primarily at second and third at Arizona. In the minors, he's played a lot of shortstop, but saw increased time at second base last season when he returned to Batavia. He's got good hands and enough range to play at short. Hardy isn't likely to win any gold gloves, but he makes the basic plays and turns in a gem every now and then.

Projection: It's looking more and more like Hardy may wind up being somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades on the infield. He has experience and ability at three infield positions and doesn't look like he can beat out a lot of the tougher prospects for jobs at any of those spots. That means he'll have to take his playing time when and where he can get it. Hardy will likely start 2006 back at Lakewood and is probably going to be there for the entire season.

Comparison: Hardy still compares to a Kevin Stocker type player, although he has more versatility and athleticism than Stocker did. He definitely needs to show more offense if he's going to stay on the prospect radar for the Phillies.


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