Prospect Q&A: Daniel Bard

See also: Previous Prospect Q&A with Adam Miller
See also: Prospect Q&A Archive

Daniel Bard was clocked at 100 mph in the instructional league last week, and the 21-year-old right-hander’s timetable for reaching Boston may be almost as rapid. The 28th overall pick in June, Bard signed late after helping lead North Carolina to the College World Series finals, but while he has yet to make his professional debut, an early arrival to a big league mound seems likely.

Much like Craig Hansen, who was taken 26th overall by the Red Sox last year, Bard was considered top-10 talent by many scouts, but dropped to the bottom half of the first round due to signability concerns.

Featuring an effortless delivery to go with one of the best arms in the draft, Bard received a $1.55 million signing bonus after teaming with fellow first-round pick Andrew Miller to form the best one-two punch in college baseball. Unlike Hansen and Miller, Bard won’t make his big league debut in the year he was drafted, but it shouldn’t be long before he calls Fenway Park home.

Baseball America:  You didn’t sign until mid-August, and won’t make your professional debut until next spring. What impact will that have on your career?

Daniel Bard: I think that even if I had signed right away, the plan would have been for me to throw no more than two innings a week. So while the experience would have been good as far as getting to know some of my coaches and teammates, game-wise there wouldn’t have been much of a difference. I’m learning a lot here in instructs, so I should be prepared when next season starts.

BA: Have the Red Sox indicated whether they project you as a starter or as a reliever, and do you feel you’re better suited for either role?

DB: It’s come up a bit, and based on those conversations I’ll be a starter to begin my career. I think there are certain things that point to each being a good role for me. I have three or four pitches, and can hold my velocity deep into games, so that points to being a starter. On the other hand, I know I could be effective attacking hitters with my best two pitches for one inning. I like starting, but could see myself succeeding either way.

BA: What do you consider your two best pitches?

DB: My fastball, always. Next to that, it’s either my slider or changeup, depending on how I feel. I kind of go back and forth on that, day-to-day. I relied more on my slider at UNC, because a lot of college hitters struggle with a good breaking ball. Here it will be more important to have a good change. The fastball is still my number one.

BA: How would you describe your fastball, including velocity?

DB: Here in Fort Myers, I’ve been between 96 and 98 (mph). They said I hit 100 in my last outing, which was kind of nice to hear. I throw a two-seamer, too, which is about two or three miles an hour slower than my four-seamer. It has pretty good sink to it most of the time.

BA:  What about your secondary pitches?

DB: I only threw one breaking ball in college, around 80-82 (mph), but I’ve split that into two pitches. Now I’m throwing a hard curve, around 78-79, and a cut fastball/slider around 86-89. I also throw a changeup that’s usually about 88 and tails away from lefthanded hitters. When I have a good one, I’ll get hitters to roll over on it and get easy outs.

BA: Assuming that each is a win, would you rather throw a two-hit shutout with four K’s, or allow two runs on six hits with 16 K’s?

DB: Definitely the first one. People see me throw and expect me to put up big strikeout numbers all the time, and while I’ll take a strikeout whenever I can, my style is to pitch more to contact and try to induce ground balls early in the count. My best outings in college usually had 15-to-18 ground ball outs, and single-digit strikeouts, so that’s when I feel I’m at my best. I’m not out there trying to miss bats with everything.

BA: Your UNC bio says that you modeled your game after Rob Dibble. Why Dibble?

DB: That was actually kind of a joke. He was a hard thrower, but to be honest, I didn’t even follow his career. Some of the guys took that question seriously, but a few of us had a little fun with it. Andrew Miller said he modeled his after Phil Mickelson, and the year before I think he said Tony Stewart.