Royals Farm Report
Leland Franklin “Rowdy” Hardy
AA-Northwest Arkansas Naturals
27 years old
Weight: 170 pounds
Signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent in 2006
The man with perhaps the best baseball name of all time was signed on as a longshot, but has slowly established himself as one of the Kansas City Royals’ best bullpen prospects.
Rowdy Hardy was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent in 2006. With a name like Rowdy, you’d think the tall, lanky left-hander would be a fireballer. But you’d be wrong. Rowdy Hardy is all finesse.
“It’s tough,” minor league outfielder Orlando Rosales once said about facing Hardy. “You’re used to guys that throw in the 90s, and this guy is topping out at, what, 80?”
With that type of velocity – if you can call it that – Hardy would have to have pinpoint control and terrific movement to be successful.
He has those things in spades.
Baseball America once called Hardy the best control pitcher in the Carolina League. And his former college coach, Gary McClure, said this about the first time he saw Hardy pitch:
“He was so skinny he looked like he was malnourished. But his ball moved all over the place.”
This is the beauty of baseball, of course: not only power pitchers are successful in the game. Pure finesse guys, especially lefties, especially side-armers, are often some of the most underrated but dominant pitchers around.
Gary McClure does not undersell it. He calls Rowdy Hardy the best pitcher in Austin Peay University history.
“He was our No. 1 guy,” McClure said. “When he pitched, you knew you were going to win. He has to go down as the best pitcher ever in this league.”
He has translated his college success to recognition in the minors. He was the Royals’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year, as well as the Carolina League Pitcher of the Year, in 2007 while playing for Wilmington.
This year, Hardy has pitched well for the Naturals, posting a 3.92 over 30 appearances out of the bullpen. He’s struck out 45 batters while walking only 16, and has always yielded an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Hardy gives the Royals an interesting option for the future. He could be a successful lefty specialist, but most in the organization hope that he could even be a setup guy.
In the future, at Kauffman Stadium the eighth inning could be Rowdy Time.
MiLB WEEKLY ROUNDUP
AAA – Omaha Royals
Record to date: 65-54, second place in the PCL American North
The past week: 5-1, including five wins in a row and a four-game sweep of Tacoma
Transactions: Just one – Matt Herges was activated from the disabled list.
Coming up: The O-Royals are in Sacramento over the weekend, then travel to Fresno for four games. They return home to host Memphis and Iowa beginning next week.
AA – Northwest Arkansas Naturals
Record to date: 29-18 in the second half (first place), 71-46 overall
The past week: 6-1, winning their last three in a row
Transactions: Alex Caldera was placed on the 7-day disabled list; and Barry Bowden was received from A+ Wilmington.
Coming up: The Naturals begin a series at Midland today, then host Frisco and Midland next week.
A+ – Wilmington Blue Rocks
Record to date: 25-22 in the second half (second place), 57-60 overall
The past week: 3-3. Their game on Aug. 12 was canceled due to rain.
Transactions: Timothy Melville was activated from the 7-day disabled list; Barry Bowden was promoted to AA-Northwest Arkansas; Juan Rivera was placed on the 7-day DL; Eddie Prasch was activated from the DL; James Thompson was placed on the temporarily inactive list; and Ryan Dennick was promoted from the A- Burlington Bees.
Coming up: After finishing with Salem this weekend, the Rocks travel to Frederick before returning home to host Lynchburg next week.
POSITION PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Christian Colon, shortstop, A+ Wilmington Blue Rocks
.321 average (9-for-28), double, 3 RBI
The fourth-overall pick in the 2010 MLB draft has quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the minors. Over 160 at-bats at Class A+ this season, Colon is hitting .256 with a couple home runs, 21 RBI and a .310 slugging percentage. He’s really turned it on the past week.
PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Matt Herges, Omaha Royals
2 games, 1 start, 5 IP, 1-0
Herges, a veteran pitcher who has seen time in the majors with Colorado, is trying to resurrect his career in Kansas City. He has been one of the O-Royals’ most consistent pitchers this season, appearing in 38 games and getting his first start of the season this week.