- Full name James Jerry Hardy
- Born 08/19/1982 in Tucson, AZ
- Profile Ht.: 6'1" / Wt.: 200 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Sabino
- Debut 04/04/2005
Drafted in the 2nd round (56th overall) by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2001 (signed for $735,000).
View Draft ReportHardy comes from athletic stock. His father Mark is a former professional tennis player and his mother Susan once played on the LPGA tour. Hardy has the kind of athletic skills that have enabled him to play almost any position on the field, and he ranks as one of the top two-way players in the draft. Teams agree that he is a third-round talent but are divided whether he's more appealing as a pitcher or a hitter. He was used at shortstop (.455-8-34, 15 SB) and closer (4-1, 2.03, 8 SV, 41 IP, 5 BB, 57 SO) this spring. His own preference is to be a position player. His tools are average to slightly above-average across the board. He has been clocked at 6.5 seconds in the 60-yard dash and at 89-92 mph off the mound.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Following a 2003 campaign that put him in place to compete for major league playing time, Hardy's left shoulder popped out of its socket on a swing during spring training. He tore his labrum and tried to play through it before having season-ending surgery in May. Hardy doesn't have overwhelming tools, but his competitiveness and savvy have allowed him to make up for any shortcomings. He displays a natural feel for hitting, rarely striking out while spraying line drives to all fields. For a middle infielder, he has solid gap power. His instincts serve him well defensively, where he has a plus arm, good hands and range. Scouts have questioned Hardy's bat since his amateur days, and his swing sometimes gets out of whack. He's an average runner at best, though he plays above his speed on the bases and in the field. For most players, losing most of a season would be a significant setback, but the Brewers aren't concerned because of Hardy's makeup. He'll get a chance to win the big league shortstop job in spring training, where his main competition will be Bill Hall.
The Brewers haven't been afraid to push Hardy, whom they consider a special player. He spent 2003 in Double-A at age 20, making the Futures Game and Southern League all-star team. He also served as the backup shortstop on the U.S. Olympic qualifying team. Not a bad resume at this point of his career. Hardy has a strong arm and good range at shortstop. Scouts were uncertain about his hitting ability when he was an amateur, but he has surprising pop and rarely strikes out because of his plate discipline. What the Brewers really like about Hardy, however, is his competitive nature. His makeup is off the charts. Hardy sometimes gets long with his swing and goes into funks at the plate. He doesn't run particularly well and isn't exceptionally quick, but he makes up for those shortcomings with keen baseball instincts. His intense nature causes him to wear down at times. It wouldn't be a shock to see Hardy in the Brewers' Opening Day lineup. If not, many in the organization believe he'll arrive in the majors later in 2004. He's expected to be Milwaukee's starting shortstop for a long time.
Forced into a big league exhibition game when the Brewers were shorthanded last spring, the 19-year-old Hardy collected three hits and played flawless defense against the Athletics. That moment in the sun set the tone for a positive year. Despite his youth, Hardy skipped a level to turn in a solid first half in high Class A, then held his own in Double-A and the Arizona Fall League. At this point in his career, Hardy's defensive ability is running considerably ahead of his offense. Though he's not exceptionally quick, his keen instincts allow him to get good jumps on balls. He covers ground with long strides, has soft hands and delivers the ball across the diamond with authority. Offensively, he's a gap-to-gap hitter and the Brewers are confident his power will increase as he matures. His work ethic and personality are outstanding. With his first full pro season complete, Hardy embarked on a weightlifting program designed to increase strength. Learning to draw walks also would help boost his offensive productivity. He also could add some loft to his swing. The Brewers consider Hardy their shortstop of the future, and the future is approaching rapidly. Though he may return to Double-A to start the year, a September callup isn't out of the question.
Hardy has such a good arm that some teams considered drafting him as a pitcher out of high school. The Brewers believe he can be a shortstop, however, with the skills of a Robin Yount. Though they got him in the second round, they consider Hardy a first-round talent. He has good genes, as his father Mark played professional tennis and his mother Susan golfed on the LPGA tour. Hardy has superior instincts and skills on defense, including a great arm and range. He has soft hands and is fundamentally sound beyond his years. The Brewers also believe he'll develop into a good hitter one day, and he walked more than he struck out in his first pro summer. His defense is far ahead of his offense at this point, but many believe he merely needs more experience with a wood bat. He doesn't have much foot speed to speak of but gets good jumps on the ball and makes plays other shortstops don't. Hardy's career is just starting, but the Brewers see a big league shortstop in the making. The next step for him is Beloit in 2002.
Minor League Top Prospects
While managers voted teammate Hart the league's MVP, Hardy clearly had the better year. He was the league's best defensive shortstop while playing most of the season at age 20. His .796 on-base plus slugging percentage nearly matched Hart's .807 mark. Perhaps the three weeks Hardy missed with a hip-flexor injury kept him from winning the hardware. When healthy, Hardy showed above-average ability in every facet of the game except running. He surprised managers with the juice in his bat, and his excellent hand-eye coordination and good plate discipline caused scouts to project him as a plus offensive player down the road. Hardy also took a leadership role on a prospect-laden Stars team that lost to Carolina in the league finals. "He's going to hit, but his defense stands out more," Huntsville manager Frank Kremblas said. "He's not flashy at all, but he's got excellent hands, range that's a bit above-average and more than enough arm. He's savvy at the position and gets to a lot of balls, and he makes the plays on the ones he gets to."
After a quick initiation at the Rookie level last summer, Hardy skipped low Class A entirely. Though he was just a year removed from high school, Hardy was promoted to Double-A after the all-star break. Scouts tend to initially doubt Hardy's tools at shortstop before his work ethic, competitiveness and instincts win them over. While he doesn't have flashy actions, he plays the position well, along the lines of Cal Ripken. "He was a pleasant surprise for me," an AL scout said. "Most young guys make a lot of errors, but he's always in the right spot and he catches the ball. He has big feet, but it didn't affect him at short. He's light on his feet." Hardy held his own at the plate, though some observers did question his offensive potential. He made consistent hard contact but needs to add some loft to his swing and draw more walks.
Drafted between Jones and Steitz by the Brewers, Hardy was the league's top shortstop prospect. Possessing at least average talent in all phases of the game, Hardy shined on defense with several highlight-reel plays. He drew comparisons to Robin Yount with his smooth and easy actions on defense, above-average arm, soft hands and steady footwork. Hardy also showed a consistent swing with solid potential. "I really like what he's shown me in a short period of time," Sedar said. "He's got all the tools that you look for in a shortstop. When he develops as a hitter, he's going to have some power, too." "I think some day he's going to be a hitter," Silvestri said. "He's just starting to figure out the wooden bat. Once he does that, he's going to take off. He has a great shot at being in the big leagues in a couple of years."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive SS in the American League in 2013
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005
- Rated Best Defensive SS in the International League in 2004
- Rated Best Defensive SS in the California League in 2002