Blaze Tart, regarded as the UNC-Wilmington baseball team’s prize recruit, says he has given little thought to Wednesday’s beginning of the fall signing period.
He accepted a partial scholarship from the Seahawks this summer and has not wavered, saying he will sign and fax the offer despite more than passing interest from professional scouts.
“Every kid wants to get drafted, but it would take a lot,’’ he said.
One scout projects Tart, a two-way player at The IMG Academy School at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., will go in the top 10 rounds of the 2009 baseball draft. Perfect Game Cross Checker says he is likely to go in rounds 10 to 15.
“It is like I told you before, Wilmington is where I want to go,’’ Tart said.
He says he has stayed in touch with Seahawks pitching coach Jason Howell as much as the rules allow.
“I know the coaches down there are tough when you get on campus, but I think I am ready for it,’’ said Tart, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound right-handed pitcher, infielder and outfielder who grew up in Durham and played at Riverside High before transferring to IMG over the summer.
He is expected to have an immediate impact as a freshman in 2010. As a position player, his outfield throws have been clocked at 90 mph and he hits for power despite rarely striking out.
Yet, on the mound is perhaps where his future lies. At a wooden-bat tournament in October, he topped out at 91 mph in limited duty, prompting one scout to suggest he will benefit from college. Tart asked scouts if becoming a starting pitcher will increase his value. They told him no, that he was suited for relieving. He was the closer on his summer travel team.
“He asked me if I was a starter or like to come in during games,’’ Tart said of Howell. “I told him I like to come in during the middle of games. I have a feeling that is where they are going to put me at.
“When I am closing, my adrenaline is up. I just throw harder and everything works better. When I start, my velocity drops a little bit because I have to save my arm.’’
He is one of three pitchers who say they will sign with the Seahawks today. One, left-hander Tyler DeLoach of Roanoke Rapids, could rival Tart as UNCW’s top recruit, according to a scout.
“He might be their potential best prospect,’’ the scout said. “But the Tart kid, however, has a good body. He is a high profile kid because he was in Jupiter and goes to IMG. Put it this way, A lot of people are going to go and watch him in the spring. DeLoach is a big body kid who shows some velocity and will also get his share of looks.”
Breaking down the Class
Staff writer Chuck Carree takes a look at the recruits who say they will sign with the UNCW baseball program today during the week-long fall period:
1. Blaze Tart, 6-2, 185, RHP-OF-IF, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. Head of the recruiting class and expected to make impact as a freshman.
2. Tyler DeLoach, 6-6, 184, LHP, Roanoke Rapids. Could have immediate impact because of darting fastball and good curve. Projects as top flight starting pitcher with professional potential. “The sky is the limit,’’ said high school coach Mark Snead. “He has a chance to be an outstanding college pitcher. UNCW is getting a great one.’’
3. Tom Timoney, 5-10, 170, RHP, All-Star Baseball Academy, Mercersburg, Pa. Could make significant contribution as a freshman with velocity in the upper 80-mph range. “He doesn’t exert a lot of effort in his delivery,’’ said Mike Manning, his prep coach. “The ball really explodes out of his hand. It kind of sneaks up on guys, and he has above average command of his pitches.’’
4. Hunter Ridge, 6-1, 190, 1B, Southwestern Randolph. Could contribute as a freshman because he is an advanced hitter who seldom strikes out and has power to all fields. He turned down offers to Coastal Carolina and East Carolina. “He hits the ball where it is pitched and is a legitimate Division I player,’’ said high school coach Christopher Cook. “He has a good arm and can play the outfield, too.’’
5. Will Edgerton, 5-8, 165, OF, C.B. Aycock. He could play some as a freshman because of speed. “They told me I’d have an opportunity to play early,’’ Edgerton said. “It was an easy decision for me to chose Wilmington because I fell in love with the campus.’’
6. Michael Bass, 5-9, 140, IF, Fairmont. No. 1 in his academic class and the quarterback on the football team. Hit .402 with 35 runs scored as a junior in the leadoff spot. He may be ready to see playing time by his sophomore year at the earliest. “One thing they talked about was that I had to fill out physically,’’ he said of his conversation with UNCW coaches.