BOONE — Productive in Black and Gold, App State pitcher Jack Hartman became a highly regarded, hard-throwing member of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization Thursday night.
The Pirates used a fourth-round selection on the 21-year-old Hartman, taking the 6-foot-3, 210-pound right-hander with the 108th overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. He was the second college senior taken in the entire draft, behind only second-round pick Landon Knack from East Tennessee State.
“I’m just super excited, to be honest,” Hartman said after the draft, which had been 40 rounds in previous years before being condensed to five rounds in 2020. “I’m speechless. I know that might sound corny, but I don’t even know what to think. I wasn’t expecting it to happen at that time, and I’m just really excited to be a Pirate.”
For the third time in the last four seasons, one of App State pitching coach Justin Aspegren’s pupils was picked in the first 13 rounds. The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Matt Brill in the 12th round in 2017, and the St. Louis Cardinals used a 13th-round pick on Colin Schmid in 2018.
Pittsburgh made Hartman the fourth-highest selection of an App State player in school history and the highest pick of a Mountaineer since outfielder/pitcher Tony Welborn went 70th overall as a third-round selection of the Montreal Expos in 1986. Todd Welborn went in the fourth round with the 100th overall pick to the New York Mets in 1985, and World Series champion Mike Ramsey was picked No. 64 overall as a third-round selection of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1975.
Two years ago, Hartman was at his third junior college still trying to make a mark as an offensive-minded third baseman. With minimal pitching experience to that point in his long baseball career, he finished his sophomore season at the College of Central Florida as a reliever with intriguing potential and joined head coach Kermit Smith’s program at App State for his final two college seasons.
Working with Aspegren, Hartman had a solid debut for the Mountaineers while throwing 21.2 innings in 2019. With increased attention from scouts and buzz over his professional prospects, he then excelled in a pandemic-shortened senior year, striking out 22 batters in 12.0 innings and posting a 3.00 ERA with a 1-0 record and league-leading four saves for an 11-6 team.
His 10 appearances were highlighted by a victory during a five-out relief effort in which he struck out four batters, including the final three, on a rainy night at No. 24 Wake Forest with lots of MLB scouts in attendance.
With a four-seam cutter serving as a high-spin fastball, plus a power breaking ball and a sharp slider, Hartman can pitch in the range of 92-96 mph while touching 97. D1Baseball.com listed him as the 231st-ranked draft prospect, meaning he would have been a candidate to go in the first 10 rounds of a full-length draft, but the dynamics at play in 2020 still gave him an opportunity to be selected in a five-round event.
Going in the fourth round was a welcomed surprise.
“I started out as a hopeful new pitcher, and I didn’t really have any expectations until this spring,” Hartman said. “Now, being a fourth-round pick, that was never in my dreams going into this year. I couldn’t be any happier.”