Very few supplemental first round picks make waves during their first spring training.
Josh Hart is a bit of an exception.
On Monday afternoon, Oriole-great Frank Robinson paid a visit to Sarasota, Fla to visit with the team. However, when Baltimore’s manager Buck Showalter introduced the 19-year-old to Robinson, Hart had no idea who the Hall of Famer was.
As the son of a high school principal, it should come as no surprise that Showalter told Hart to complete a one-page report on Robinson. Nor should it come as a shock the story garnered national exposure:
If I were Hart, I would have been mortified. After all, his report probably included some of the following about Robinson:
-1982 Hall of Fame Inductee
– #22 on Sporting News List of 100 Greatest Baseball Players
– Finalist for Major League Baseball All-Century Team
-Two-time MVP and World Series MVP in 1966
-9th all-time in home runs (fourth-most at the time of his retirement)
– First African-American to serve as a manager in Major League History
You get the drift. It’s information most baseball fans are aware of. But the reality is, some professional baseball players didn’t grow up as huge baseball fans. The vast majority played multiple sports through high school, and idolized NFL or NBA stars as kids. Some, even got to live out their dreams in multiple pro sports:
Okay, if you’re a Super Bowl winning quarterback I understand why you might gravitate towards football over baseball (Wilson was drafted by the Rockies and selected in the 2013 Rule 5 draft by the Rangers, while Elway played a summer in the Yankees farm-system, FYI).
Still, if you’re going to play baseball, a working knowledge of the all-time greats isn’t asking a lot. Especially, when a host of them have come from your own franchise. As O’s manager Buck Showalter put it on ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning:
“It’s important that we realize there were some people that paved the way to have that strong fan base, the people that live and die with everything the Orioles do.”
A lesson Hart learned over the course of his assignment. If you’re wondering, his report earned an “A-plus” from the Orioles skipper.
Now that he’s hit the books, Hart will try and open some eyes on the field. Over 36 games with the GCL Orioles and Short-Season Aberdeen Ironbirds in 2013, he hit .218 with nine RBIs and 11 stolen bases. Rated the No. 13 prospect in the Baltimore system by Baseball America, Hart profiles as a speed guy at the top of the lineup. But with plenty to learn, he’s likely a year away from Frederick at least.
That being said, the Keys can expect a talented group in 2014. Over the next few weeks, we’ll have our predictions, as we continue the countdown towards opening day.
Talk soon, and shake your keys!