- Full name Daniel Paul Bard
- Born 06/25/1985 in Houston, TX
- Profile Ht.: 6'4" / Wt.: 215 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School North Carolina
- Debut 05/13/2009
Drafted in the 1st round (28th overall) by the Boston Red Sox in 2006 (signed for $1,550,000).
View Draft ReportBard has not thrown with the same consistency of teammate Andrew Miller, but the righthander should give the Tar Heels two first-round picks. Bard limited opponents to a .220 average in his first 72 innings this spring while winning six of his first nine decisions. According to UNC head coach Mike Fox, Bard had his best start as a collegian on April 23 by tossing a four-hit shutout versus N.C. State. That performance followed a strong effort in the Cape Cod League, when he led the circuit in strikeouts and ranked as the second-best prospect, behind only Miller. Bard was deemed one of the premier high school pitchers in the 2003 draft before falling to the Yankees in the 20th round due to signability concerns. He proceeded to earn ACC freshman of the year honors in 2004 prior to an uneven season as a sophomore. Bard's fastball resides in the low 90s and touches 94 after hitting 98 earlier in his college career. His curveball is just as effective, featuring a sharp bite and a late break. Scouts also love his workhorse mentality and durable body. He can struggle with the command of his fastball, and has worked on becoming more pitch-efficient.
Organization Prospect Rankings
After losing his command and confidence as a starter in his 2007 pro debut, Bard altered his mechanics and seemed more comfortable as a reliever in Hawaii Winter Baseball. Kept in that role in 2008, he was Boston's minor league pitcher of the year after ranking among the minor league bullpen leaders in strikeouts per nine innings (12.4) and opponent average (.158). Bard can overmatch hitters with his fastball, throwing 97-100 mph four-seamers and low-90s power sinkers with little effort. After struggling with a curveball and a slurve in the past, he finally found a second pitch in a solid mid-80s slider. It's not especially sharp, but the slider breaks enough to eat up hitters geared for his fastball. While Bard is doing a much better job repeating his delivery, he still gets around his pitches at times, causing them to flatten out. He cut his walk rate from 9.4 per nine innings in 2007 to 3.5 in 2008, but he still needs better control. He lacks deception, though it's not easy to catch up to his stuff. Bard has come a long way in a year, though he may project better as a set-up man than as a closer. He'll probably open 2009 in Triple-A and break into the Boston bullpen in a low-pressure role later in the year.
No pitcher struggled with the hitting environment at Lancaster last year more than Bard did. After surrendering four runs in 22⁄3 innings in his first start, he completely lost his confidence and stopped challenging hitters. He gave up 21 walks and 19 runs over 102⁄3 innings in his next four starts, then went on the disabled list for what was described as a triceps injury but may have been a mental health break as much as anything. He spent some time in extended spring training before being shipped to low Class A. Bard wasn't much better at the lower level, as he continued to fall out of whack with his mechanics, lose his release point and miss the strike zone. He did a better job of repeating his delivery in Hawaii Winter Baseball, but still has a considerable ways to go to find consistent command. The Red Sox will remain patient because Bard has an electric arm even if he can't harness it. He throws 96-98 mph without breaking a sweat, breaking bats with his combination of velocity and heavy life. He never has had a reliable breaking ball. He's now working with a slurvy pitch that's more curve than slider, and while it's a plus offering at times, he doesn't locate it very well. His changeup is less dependable than his breaking ball. Bard posted a 1.08 ERA in Hawaii, though he still walked 15 batters and hit five in 17 innings. Though they drafted him as a starter--and gave him a $1.55 million bonus--the Red Sox are starting to think they should just put him in the bullpen. He seems to challenge hitters more and just let his pitches go in that role, and he has a history of success in shorter stints in venues such as Team USA, the Cape Cod League and his relief role in Hawaii.
Lefthander Andrew Miller was the consensus top prospect in the 2006 draft, and his North Carolina teammate Bard is capable of being just as overpowering. They ranked as the top two prospects in the Cape Cod League in 2005 and pitched the Tar Heels to within a win of a national title in 2006. Both dropped slightly in the draft because of signability, with Bard going 28th overall and agreeing to a $1.55 million bonus. When Bard reported to instructional league, he touched 100 mph on multiple occasions and pitched at 95-98 mph with his fastball. His heater's combination of velocity and heavy life chews up wood bats, and he dials it up with no effort. His fastball is so good that command and secondary pitches will be less important to him than they are for other pitchers--but he does need to improve both. He'll flash a plus slider but it's inconsistent, and he's still developing feel for a changeup. Bard is a product of a major college program yet still very much a project. The Red Sox will try to turn him into a frontline starter, but with his fastball alone he could be an effective reliever.
Minor League Top Prospects
Bard was a starter in college and during his disastrous pro debut in 2007, when he posted a 7.08 ERA at two Class A stops. He started to right himself last offseason in Hawaii Winter Baseball, working with pitching coach Mike Cather, and reunited with Cather at Portland this season. The Red Sox used Bard in longer stints as a middle reliever for most of the season and he dominated, and he showed he could handle closing in the season's final month. Bard averaged 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings, gave up just three home runs and had more than two groundouts for every fly out. He was unhittable when his stuff was down in the zone, and he was the league's hardest thrower, regularly hitting 99-100 mph. Even with his velocity, he has to keep his fastball and hard slider down because his delivery lacks deception. "He's sitting at 97 mph with his four-seamer, and his two-seamer is sitting around 92," said New Hampshire manager Gary Cathcart. "He was throwing an 80 mph hard breaking ball for strikes and commanding it." Connecticut manager Bien Figueroa added, "When he's throwing strikes, he's got better stuff than (Jonathan) Papelbon."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Fastball in the International League in 2009
- Rated Best Fastball in the Boston Red Sox in 2009
- Rated Best Reliever in the Eastern League in 2008
- Rated Best Fastball in the Eastern League in 2008
- Rated Best Fastball in the Boston Red Sox in 2007
- United States activated RHP Daniel Bard.