Friends Hunter Barco, Tyler Callihan could be area's next first-round baseball duo

Bolles pitcher, Providence slugger have friendship outside of baseball

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – They weren’t high school teammates, but Tyler Callihan and Hunter Barco have gone through the elite baseball path together. 

Both were high school All-Americans. Both have signed with major college programs. Both have been highly touted prospects for years. And both will likely hear their names called early in the Major League Baseball draft, which begins Monday night. 

Callihan, an infielder from Providence who has signed with South Carolina, and Barco, a 6-5 left-handed pitcher from Bolles who has signed with Florida, are both projected to be selected on the opening night of the three-day draft. 

ESPN’s Keith Law has Callihan going 20th to Seattle. Bleacher Report has Callihan going 22nd to Tampa Bay. Baseball America lists him as the 37th-best player available. CBSSports has Callihan going 30th to the Yankees. MLB draft pipeline has Callihan ranked 35th.

Barco is 34th by the draft pipeline. Bleacher Report's Adam Wells has Barco going 29th to the Athletics, Paul Kasabian has Barco going 32nd to the Astros and Joel Reuter has him landing with the Brewers at 28.

Should they be selected as high as projections and sign, both could be multimillionaires very soon. 

The slot bonus for pick No. 20 is $3,242,900, with the bonus money dropping to $1,469,900 for pick No. 50. 

It’d be somewhat of a rarity for an area high school duo to go as high as most mock drafts have them pegged. Only 13 area players have been selected in the top 50 straight out of high school in the baseball draft, which began in 1965.

Only once have two been taken in the same year, 2004, when Wolfson’s Billy Butler (to the Royals at 14) and Eric Hurley (to the Rangers at 30) were picked. 

While Barco and Callihan played for different high schools, they are close friends and both All-Americans. And they know very well what the other is going through.

“That kid, he’s such a unique character and he’s definitely made me laugh a bunch of times,” Callihan said of Barco. “He gets up there and dominates almost everybody he faces. And like every time you get up there, you’re just like, ‘oh gosh this is going to be another tough at bat.’ 

“You can’t take pitches off against him. Kid’s had a lot of influence on me throughout this past year. Him and I, kind of just whenever we do get stressed [about the draft] or anything we kind of just talk about it … He’s a great kid and I love him.”

Callihan got the better of Barco in their lone meeting of the season, an 11-7 Bolles win on April 18. Callihan went 2 for 2 off of Barco with a homer and a walk. 

“I’ve thrown against him a bunch. This year he got the best of me,” Barco said. “I love Tyler to death. Played with him since we were young. I’ve known him forever. Got to play with him this summer. I hope he does really well.”

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