Pirates Kevin Hart Is Neil Walkers Pick


The Pittsburgh Pirates Kevin Hart faces a big challenge this week at Pirates minicamp.

The 6’4″, 28-year old right hander is making a comeback after suffering a torn labrum.  Hart had surgery to repair it last May.

The once promising pitcher who put up 8.7K per nine innings pitched over the course of four AAA seasons had been pegged for much higher goals last season than rehabbing a serious injury.

After being one-third of the return in the John Grabow deal, Hart was thought to be the Pirates fifth starter at one point.  Now he will be a reliever.  What a difference a labrum makes.  And his 5.16 FIP over 53 innings of work as a Bucco in 2009.

There is plenty to like about Hart although he hasn’t shown it as a Pirates pitcher.  His history shows that he misses bats and gets ground balls rather well with a  low/mid 90’s heater, an effective curve ball, and solid cutter.  Hart has struggled with his control.  For Hart to be effective as a reliever with the Bucs,  he needs to continue getting batters to swing at his pitches out of the zone, but also find the strike zone when needed.

So can the once promising, swing and miss hurler who was once the sixth-best Cubs prospect put it all together?  One man thinks so.

During the time we spent talking with Neil Walker we asked him for a pitcher that could surprise people, a sleeper for 2011.  He didn’t hesitate when he said  “Kevin Hart.  That guy is nasty.  He just needs to get healthy.”

Let’s trust that happens in 2011, returning from a torn labrum is a big deal.  For the Pirates pitching staff to have someone rise up and surprise, is even bigger.

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