Name: Hunter Barco
Position: Left-Handed Pitcher
Class: Junior (COVID-19)
Weight: 210 lbs
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
High School: The Bolles School
Many didn’t expect Barco to end up at UF. He was considered by some to be a first-round talent coming out of high school in the 2019 MLB draft, but he slid to the Milwaukee Brewers in the 24th round, and he turned down a multi-million dollar signing bonus that didn’t meet his requirements. He enrolled in Gainesville instead.
He had an electric true freshman season despite it being shortened due to COVID-19. He made four starts and one appearance in relief, notching a 2-0 record and a 1.40 ERA. Heading into the 2021 season, he was expected to be the Sunday pitcher, behind Tommy Mace and Jack Leftwich.
His first start of the season in the opening series to Miami was rough, as he allowed six earned runs in 3 1/3 innings, and he took the loss. Barco eventually worked an ERA that was bloated to start the season down to 4.01 with some very solid games in SEC play. He ended up with a 10-3 record, and his best performance came against eventual CWS finalist Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament when he pitched a complete game in a 13-1, run-rule victory.
But Barco’s occasional blowups like he suffered against the Hurricanes persisted, even as he eventually solidified himself as the Day 2 starter. Heading into his “COVID” sophomore season in 2022, he’ll have to improve a lot. Assuming Mace departs for the minor leagues, Barco is the leading candidate to be UF’s ace next season.