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UNCW recruit weighs pro future in baseball

Wilmington Star-News

When UNC-Wilmington baseball recruit Blaze Tart debuted on the mound for his high school team this spring, he was still touching 93 mph in the seventh inning with 20-plus scouts as onlookers.

Since then, according to his coach, Kevin Sharp at IMG Academy’s IMG Academy School in Bradenton, Fla., scouts from every major league team has seen him pitch.

“If all goes well, he will have a tough decision on draft day for he and his family,’’ Sharp said.

Allan Simpson, a draft expert for Perfect Game Cross Checker, projects Tart as an eighth- to 12th-round pick in June.

Since signing with the Seahawks in November, Tart has maintained he will play for UNCW in 2010 instead of a minor league team over the summer.

“The consensus is he will go to school,’’ Simpson said.

Three National League scouts, after seeing Tart pitch, also said he will benefit under Mark Scalf and pitching coach Jason Howell.

Tart likely made his final start of the spring Wednesday and received a no decision after allowing seven earned runs and 10 hits against a good fastball-hitting squad.

“He will be at Wilmington in the fall,’’ said a scout at Wednesday’s game. He said Tart reached 91 mph, but mostly hit 88.

Another scout depicted Tart as a teenager with a prototype pitcher’s body and a future draft choice.

“When I saw him, he threw OK,’’ the scout said. “He is very raw, but he is one of those projectable guys you might want to take a chance on.’’

In a recent interview, Tart mentioned he had been throwing better lately, while mixing in fastballs, change ups, sliders and curves. He acknowledged talking with scouts, but did not know where he stood.

He may play on a travel team in the summer, but the Seahawks hope he attends the second session of summer school.

He is the Seahawks’ most visible recruit and a two-way standout. Playing for a nationally-ranked and just once-beaten team, he has a 9-0 record, one save and 2.62 ERA with 44 strikeouts and 27 walks in 42 1/3 innings. As an outfielder, he has a .424 average, four home runs, 30 RBI and a .747 slugging percentage.

“I will let the coaches at UNCW decide whether I will remain a two-way guy or what to do with me,’’ Tart said.

Sharp reiterated Tart is strongly committed to the Seahawks and will be an impact player in the Colonial Athletic Association.

“The only concern with the draft would be sign ability,’’ Sharp said. “He is just an good-old boy from (Durham) North Carolina. He would love to get back home to North Carolina.

“He has shown he has the skill set and the tools to not only be successful in high school, but he is going to be fantastic in college. He is a can’t miss guy in the CAA. And the sky is the limit once he gets to Wilmington.’’

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