Image credit: Colton Hartman (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
After receiving top three to four–round interest in last year’s draft, lefthander Colton Hartman will have a chance to make an immediate impact in his first college season. Last spring, Hartman was outstanding and pitched his way to a 6-2 record with a 1.18 ERA and 88 strikeouts across 53 innings. He was named the Southwest Ohio Baseball Coaches Association Pitcher of the Year and received an invitation to the MLB Draft Combine. Even with significant draft buzz, Hartman’s commitment to the Cardinals remained strong.
Hartman has a strong build at 6-foot-3 and 210-pounds with a thick lower half. He has some effort in his delivery and attacks from a near over-the-top slot with above-average arm speed. Hartman will pitch in the 91-93 range with his fastball, but it has been clocked as high as 94 and 95. He does a great job of staying behind the baseball and his heater has elite ride with upwards of 24” of induced vertical break.
It consistently gets above the barrel of opposing hitters and is at its best when located at the top of the zone. It is an above-average pitch between its velocity and traits, though Hartman will need to improve his command in order to maximize its effectiveness.
Hartman also features a mid-70s curveball that, at times, will show big-time depth and 11-to-5 shape. He has a solid feel for the pitch and opposing hitters struggle to square it up. Hartman’s best secondary offering is a mid-80s changeup that has the makings of a plus pitch. It seemingly falls off a table and flashes late tumbling life as well as some fade to the arm side. Like his curveball, Hartman has an advanced feel for the pitch.
Louisville’s weekend rotation this spring will feature Wright State transfer and 2023 Horizon League Pitcher of the Year Sebastian Gongora (10-1, 3.17 ERA), former Lewis University (Division-II) standout Jake Karaba (7-2, 1.62 ERA), and Carson Liggett (7-2, 3.42 ERA). With head coach Dan McDonnell likely opting to use one of Kade Grundy (3-0, 5.60 ERA), Riley Phillips (4-2, 4.08 ERA) or Evan Webster (4-2, 3.09 ERA) as his midweek starter, the majority of Hartman’s innings this season will likely come in a reliever role.
Even though this spring he projects as more of a bullpen arm, Hartman could make the jump to the rotation as soon as next season. As he continues to polish up his pitchability and tone down his delivery a bit, teams will become that much more convinced in his ability to start at the next level. Should that be the case, Hartman could be one of the first college arms off the board when he is next draft eligible in 2026.