The Pittsburgh Pirates selected left-handed pitcher Hunter Barco Sunday night with the 44th overall pick in the second round of the 2022 MLB draft.
Barco played three years with the Florida Gators and established himself as one of the top collegiate arms in the country before undergoing Tommy John surgery this year. Had he remained healthy, Barco likely would have gone in the first round, assuming he maintained his 2.50 ERA and 34.3% strikeout rate.
Still, Barco missed the first round by just a few spots being selected with the fifth pick of the second round. He joins Thomas Campbell as the Pirates’ second day one pick, and he’s the second Gator to come off the board behind Sterlin Thompson.
The slot value for the pick is $1,775,200, which should be enough to get Barco to sign. He included language in his farewell post to Gator Nation that indicated some chance of a return but risking it doesn’t make much sense with him likely to be out for the beginning of next season.
Barco will go down as one of the best lefties to ever wear the Orange and Blue. His 11.14 career K/9 average is second all-time in program history. Leaving after three years, and the injury, keeps him out of the top 10 in most categories of Florida’s record books, though.
Experts project Barco to be a solid No. 3 or 4 starter in the pros, but it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen a pitcher defy the odds and improve following a return from Tommy John surgery. The ceiling is certainly high for the now former Gator. Let’s see what he can do.
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