Rule 5 Pick Luke Bard Could Earn Roster Spot

The number jumps out like a flashing neon light. Righthander Luke Bard struck out an average of 13.6 batters per nine innings in 41 games last season at Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester in the Twins system.

That is an improvement from the previous two seasons, when Bard struck out 7.9 per nine, predominately at two Class A levels.

The statistical jump suggests that the 27-year-old Bard is on the rise, and it’s why the Angels selected the 6-foot-3 righty in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft in December.

“He’s a guy we’re intrigued with,” general manager Billy Eppler said. “He’s got power stuff, a plus secondary pitch, the ability to miss bats. We’re going to give him an opportunity to make our club.”

Bard’s selection cost the Angels $100,000. If he doesn’t spend the entire season on the 25-man roster, then he must be placed on waivers. If he clears, he must be offered back to the Twins for $50,000.

The reliever’s ability to throw multiple innings should improve his chances. Bard, the younger brother of former Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard, threw 65.1 innings in those 41 games last season.

Ultimately, Bard’s fate will rest on his ability to command his two-pitch mix, attack hitters and get them out. He will do so with a fastball that sits between 93-96 mph with some sinking action and occasional armside run and a slider he throws with varying speeds and shapes.

A 2012 supplemental first-rounder out of Georgia Tech, Bard signed with the Twins for $1.227 million, but he pitched just seven pro innings before aggravating a shoulder blade injury at instructional league.

He threw 12.1 innings in 2013 before having surgery that forced him to sit out the 2014 season. His shoulder finally healed, Bard jumped from low Class A Cedar Rapids in 2015 to high Class A Fort Myers in 2016.

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