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MLB draft waiting game begins for Bolles star Hunter Barco

Bulldogs ace could be a first-round pick in Monday draft

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hunter Barco arrived at Bolles with potential and left it as one of the best baseball players in First Coast history.   

Now comes the difficult part — playing the waiting game. 

On Monday, Barco and his family will gather in front of a television, then watch and wait as the Major League Baseball draft plays out. 

The first two rounds, as well as the competitive balance rounds, will be held Monday night beginning at 7 p.m. Rounds 3 through 10 are Tuesday, and 11-40 follow Wednesday. 

The rankings and mock drafts all suggest Barco, a 6-foot-5 left-handed pitcher who has signed with Florida, won’t have to wait past Monday night to hear his name called. He’s a consensus top 40 player in the country. 

MLB.com’s Jim Callis had Barco going 29th to Oakland in his early May mock draft. MLB Draft Pipeline has Barco as the 34th-best player. ESPN’s Keith Law ranks Barco as the No. 35 overall player.  

Of course, those mean little when it comes to the baseball draft, the most unpredictable among the major sports drafts.

“Little nervous, try not to think about it most as I can. It’s hard not to though,” Barco said. “I have no idea what’s going to happen, how it’s going to play out, so I’ve just got to wait until then and see everything goes.”

Barco could take the college path to Florida, but his preferred destination is no doubt pro baseball. And if he's drafted high as many project, he’ll be well-compensated. 

The slot bonus money for pick 25 is $2,740,300 and $1,469,900 at pick 50.

Barco said there’s no definitive number in mind that would sway him one way or another. 

“It’s more just being happy with the situation, and, at the end of the day, happy with how everything plays out. I can’t wait,” he said.

The First Coast area has produced solid professional baseball players over the years, but not many have been drafted high straight from the high school ranks. 

Only once since the first draft in 1965 has the area seen two high school players drafted in the top 50 picks in the same year. That came in 2004 when Wolfson teammates Billy Butler (14th to Oakland) and Eric Hurley (30th to Texas) were both first-rounders. 

This year, the area could pull off another, with both Barco and Providence slugger Tyler Callihan projected to go high.

Barco’s career at Bolles is already one for the books. 

Before he pitched in a game for the Bulldogs, Barco was already a well-known name in baseball circles. Barco said that going to a program with so many good players around him helped with the learning curve. 

“Austin Knight, Max Ferguson, Clemente Inclan, all D1 athletes now, just getting to play with those guys around you just really helped me,” he said. 

“All of them work hard, and as a young guy I saw what it takes to be a D1 athlete and that’s all I ever wanted to do is play baseball at a high level. Just watching them showed me how to do it.”

At Bolles, he went out at performed from the get-go. 

“He came to us as a really good player and he’s leaving as a really good player,” said Bulldogs coach Mike Boswell. “I just tried to save him from himself a little bit and guide him as best as we could. As far as the talent goes, he’s had that all the time.”

Barco went 35-4 in five seasons (he pitched as an eighth grader) with a 1.53 ERA and 336 Ks in 269.1 innings pitched. His playoff numbers alone cement just how dominant he was, and how he may be the most accomplished hurler in area baseball history. 

In playoff games over his five seasons, Barco was 12-0 with 80 Ks in 80.2 IP. He won three state semifinal games on the mound for Bolles, which won two state championships in that window. 

As a senior, Barco was probably better at the plate than he was on the mound as he scaled back on his workload due to shoulder discomfort that proved to be minor speed bump. He hit a career-best .355 with 14 RBI and three home runs. 

The stage was never too big for him. For Boswell, that likely means the second first-round pitcher in his tenure. Boswell coached former Englewood ace Brett Myers, who was the 12th pick in the 1999 draft. 

“I’ve just never seen a guy dominate in the playoffs the way that he did … watching him the last three years dominate in the state playoffs was just something to marvel at,” Boswell said. 

AREA HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS IN MLB DRAFT

Thirteen area players have been selected out of high school within the first 50 selections of the Major League Baseball draft since it began in 1965. Nine players were first-round picks when they were selected. 

P Player School No. Team Year

IF Javier Baez Arlington CD 9 Cubs 2011

IF Billy Butler Wolfson 14 Royals 2004

C Christopher Cross Englewood 43 Red Sox 1967^

P Joel Davis Sandalwood 13 White Sox 1983

P Eric Hurley Wolfson 30 Rangers 2004

IF Chipper Jones Bolles 1 Braves 1990

P Brett Myers Englewood 12 Phillies 1999

P Sean Reid-Foley Sandalwood 49 Blue Jays 2014

P Chris Roberts Middleburg 34 Phillies 1989*

P Adam Wainwright Glynn Academy 29 Braves 2000

3B Randy Wallace Englewood 31 Reds 1972*

SS Robert Weaver Paxon 6 Indians 1968

SS Kevin Witt Bishop Kenny 28 Blue Jays 1994 

* indicates second-round pick; ^ indicates third-round pick
 


About the Author:

Justin Barney

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.