Paul Bard’s toil in the minor leagues was not in vain.
The recipient of his father’s knowledge, Georgia Tech pitcher Luke Bard joined his brother, Daniel, as a high draft pick, getting selected late Monday night by the Minnesota Twins in the supplemental first round of the Major League Baseball draft. He was the 42nd pick overall. He follows Daniel, who was a 2006 first-round pick of the Boston Red Sox out of North Carolina and had been with the Red Sox since 2009 until Tuesday, when he was demoted to Triple-A.
Said Luke Bard of his father, “He caught for five years in the minor leagues, which is one reason why he understands pitching so much. He definitely taught me most of what I know.”
Bard was the first Yellow Jackets player chosen, followed in the fourth round by outfielder Brandon Thomas to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bard continues a notable string for Tech pitchers – Deck McGuire and Jed Bradley were first-round picks in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
Bard and Thomas are the 34th and 35th Tech players drafted in the first five rounds under coach Danny Hall.
Tech pitcher Buck Farmer was chosen in the 15th round (485th overall) by Milwaukee.
Bard was selected early despite not having pitched since March 31 because of a partially torn lat muscle. He has been on a rehab program and might have been able to pitch in the College World Series had the Jackets made it that far. Tech's season ended this past weekend in an NCAA regional loss to Florida.
“I’m back throwing, right on pace for where the doctors expected me to be at,” Bard said.
Before the injury, Bard had a 0.99 ERA in 27 1/3 innings in 11 appearances, three of them starts. Last year, he emerged as one of the top closers in the country with a 2.72 ERA in 49 2/3 innings with eight saves. Bard said the Twins see him as a starter.
Thomas, a graduate of Pace Academy, was picked in the fourth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates, the 136th overall selection. Through this past weekend’s games, Thomas was fourth in the ACC in batting average (.360), second in on-base percentage (.481) and eighth in slugging percentage (.550).
Other local college players selected early include three from Georgia Southern – outfielder Victor Roache to the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round, pitcher Chris Beck to the Chicago White Sox in the second round and third baseman Eric Phillips to the Toronto Blue Jays in the sixth. Kennesaw State catcher Ronnie Freeman went to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fifth round. The Miami Marlins selected Shorter pitcher Ryan Newell in the seventh round.
With 15 rounds scheduled to be completed Tuesday, rounds 16-40 will conclude the draft Wednesday.