Orioles, SJ-O standout can't agree

Orioles, SJ-O standout can't agree

Hunter Hart threw for the Baltimore Orioles last Tuesday. It wasn’t his first time back on the mound after an injury cost him most of his senior season at St. Joseph-Ogden, but four bullpen sessions spread across the previous two weeks was all he’d managed before the big day.

The Orioles, who selected Hart in the 37th round of the First-Year Player Draft in June, made their offer to Hart that day. He countered with his own.

By Friday — the last day for draft picks to sign — Hart had decided not to sign with the Orioles, delay his start in professional baseball and join the team at Kaskaskia College in Centralia.

“Our numbers were different, but that’s not really what I based my decision on,” Hart said of opting not to sign with Baltimore. “I based my decision on getting my legs under me and being ready to play professional baseball.

“Coming off an injury, there’s just a lot of uncertainty. It’s disappointing. I think if I didn’t get hurt during the high school season things would have been a lot different. But I also believe things happen for a reason, and it will work out in the end.”

Hart, who switched his commitment from Indiana to Kaskaskia after being selected by the Orioles, heads to a Blue Devils program two seasons removed from a trip to the NJCAA Division I World Series.

And with his ultimate goal to play professionally, Hart points to the success former Effingham ace Nick Gardewine had at Kaskaskia. Gardewine had zero pro interest out of high school but went 9-1 with a 2.12 ERA in 13 appearances for the Blue Devils in their World Series run and parlayed that improvement into being a seventh-round draft choice by the Texas Rangers in the 2013 draft.

“That’s what helped me make my decision,” Hart said. “I saw the strides he made and felt like it would be a really good fit for me.”

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