After selecting Termarr Johnson in the first round and with the 36th pick, Pittsburgh took Thomas Harrington with the 36th pick. The Pirates found themselves on the clock again for round two. With their second round selection, the Pirates drafted another college pitcher in left-hander Hunter Barco from the University of Florida. The slot-value for the 44th pick this year is $1,775,200.
The pick has the chance to pay off, but also comes with a substantial level of risk for the Pirates as Barco underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year, cutting his season short.
Prior to the injury, Barco looked strong on the mound for the Gators. In nine starts, Barco posted a 2.50 ERA with 11 walks and 69 strikeouts in 50.1 innings. For his collegiate career, the 21-year-old Barco owns a 3.18 ERA with 189 strikeouts in 152.2 innings pitched.
Barco, who stands 6-foot-4, was named a Freshman All-American after his freshman year in 2020. Barco was also named to the 2021 SEC All-Newcomer Team and was the SEC Pitcher of the Week for Feb. 21 this year. D1Baseball named him the number one collegiate pitcher at the end of March.
The southpaw features a three-pitch mix, led by his plus-slider which sits in the low-80s. Harrington features a low-90s fastball that creeps up to 95 at times and an above-average changeup. Barco’s deceptive delivery adds to his appeal on the mound. He projects as a middle-of-the-rotation arm.
Hunter Barco's 10Ks (0 BBs) pic.twitter.com/7GCufwiT2T
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 19, 2022
Barco was previously drafted by the New York Mets out of high school in the 24th round in the 2019 draft.
Looking at the first two picks, first Johnson and then a pair of college arms, it seems like the Pirates could be able to save some money with the trio. This could set Ben Cherington up to be on the prowl for potential over-slot signings on day two of the MLB Draft on Monday.
This strategy was similar to the one used by the Pirates last season, when they were able to land four high-upside players in Henry Davis, Anthony Solometo, Lonnie White Jr. and Bubba Chandler.
Day two of the MLB Draft will cover rounds 3-10 and will begin Monday at 2 PM ET. The Pirates first selection on the day will be their third round pick which is 83rd overall.