Luke Francis Bard (RHP) was drafted with the 42nd overall pick in the supplemental 1st round, a pick the Twins recieved as compensation for losing Jason Kubel. Standing 6’3”, 195, Bard, is the younger brother of Red Sox set-up man Daniel Bard and pitches with a comparable style. As a 19 year-old, he was drafted by the Red Sox in the 16th round of the 2009 draft, but instead elected to pitch at the University of Georgia Tech. His numbers have improved each year and he was dominating hitters in 2012 as junior before an injury ended his season. In 27.1 IP, he put up a 0.99 ERA with a 26-to-6 K/BB ratio as opponents hit just .211.
His repertoire includes a power fastball that clocks in at 92-96 mph, a power slider in the high 80’s with late break and a changeup. He throws from a low ¾ arm slot and occasionally struggles against lefties. Used mostly as a reliever in college – 5 starts in 55 appearances – the Twins plan on converting him to a starter. Scouts have mentioned that he will need to develop his secondary pitches to successfully transition into the role.
ESPN (Insider) on Bard’s delivery: “He pushes off the rubber and takes a long stride towards the plate, pronating his elbow a little late but repeating the whole delivery fairly well. His low slot and lack of a weapon against lefties point to a career in relief, but he does have the fastball and possible out pitch to be a starter if he's healthy and can develop a changeup.”
Baseball America rated Bard as the 11th best prospect in the ACC Conference preseason and the 93rd best player before the draft. Mid-spring, Bard tore a lat muscle that may have caused his prospect status to slip. ESPN had noted that his stock was rising to late 1st round status before the injury. Clearly the Twins’ scouts feel that the injury isn’t a major issue, taking him earlier than analysts expected him to go.
Baseball America's writeup: "At his best Bard is a prototypical power closer, with a 92-94 heater and a hard slider. In the Cape League in 2011 he worked as a starter and sat mostly in the 89-92 range with arm-side sink, and he tended to hit a wall around the middle innings. He focused on developing his changeup, but he still lacks feel for the pitch, and he profiles better as a fastball-slider reliever."
The Twins’ draft this year saw them targeting power arms early and often, mostly relievers. They’re rolling the dice, stretching out some of the of the guys to start, and Bard fits the mold. If it doesn't work out, he still profiles as an asset in the pen. Seeing as he’s got three years college experience and above average stuff, hopefully he progresses quickly through the Twins system. While doesn’t project to have the same dominating upside as his brother, there is plenty to be excited about. You can follow Luke on Twitter: @LBard38
Full rundown of Bard’s career and stats