Independence outfielder Robert Hassell and former Brentwood Academy pitcher Bryce Jarvis probably won’t wait long to hear their names called during the Major League Baseball Draft on June 10.
Both players are projected as first-round picks in several mock drafts.
Many of the mock drafts called Hassell the best pure hitter in the high school draft class.
“I believe it,” Independence coach Mike McLaury said. “That’s something he was born with. He was a hitter his whole life. Every step of his career so far he’s been one of the better hitters in the country.”
Hassell was named Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year the past two seasons.
The Vanderbilt signee led the USA Baseball under-18 National team to the silver medal at the World Cup in September.
Bleacher Report projected him as the No. 8 pick in the first round to San Diego.
Jim Callis of MLB.com predicted the lefthanded hitter will be selected 10th by the Angels.
So did one of CBS Sports’ mock drafts and another had him going at No. 13 in the first round to San Francisco.
McLaury knew Hassell was a special player right when he arrived at Indy.
“When he was a freshman, we were (practicing at an) intersquad and I was standing out there behind shortstop watching and he hit a ball – it was just a line drive base hit over the shortstop’s head – but it reminded me of when I was in college, the way they hit and he was just a freshman in high school,” said McLaury, a former Middle Tennessee State assistant. “He impressed me that day, for sure.”
Hassell could become the first Tennessee position player taken in the first round of the draft since Loudon’s Mike White in 1986.
Hassell led the Eagles to their first state tournament appearance in 2019.
The 6-foot-2 senior hit .423 with 14 homers, 36 runs batted in and 22 stolen bases. Indy played only two games before the season was canceled due to the pandemic this spring.
His fastball tops out at 93 mph on the mound.
CBS Sports and ESPN both predicted Atlanta will select Jarvis with the No. 25 pick in the first round.
Bleacher Report said it will be Oakland one selection later.
“I’m pumped,” Jarvis said. “A lot of people have asked if the nerves have kind of set in yet, but I’m still just feeling excitement and can’t wait for next Wednesday to get here.”
His father, Kevin, pitched for 10 MLB teams between 1994-2006.
“I know a lot of people don’t like to get caught up in expectations and I definitely try to stick to being my own person, but I also have to acknowledge that it’s kind of in my family,” Jarvis said.
Jarvis was named a first-team All-American at Duke by Collegiate Baseball after the coronavirus pandemic shortened his junior season.
“Over the last month I’ve talked to pretty much all 30 big-league teams and had a bunch of Zoom calls with those guys from different teams,” Jarvis said. “I’m just kind of waiting to see how things turn out.”
The righthander went 3-1 with a 0.67 earned run average and 40 strikeouts in 27 innings this season.
He improved his velocity from the 89-93-mph range in 2018 to 93-97-mph this season.
“I threw a lot of work last offseason, just adding 25 pounds and trying to get stronger,” said Jarvis, who is 6-foot-2, 200 pounds. “I spent pretty much all of last summer up in Boston working out at a facility up there six days a week and really pushed myself to the limit.”
Jarvis worked out in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., with five Duke teammates during the lockdown after the college season was canceled by the pandemic.
He pitched the first perfect game in Duke’s 131-year baseball history during an 8-0 win over Cornell on Feb. 21.
Jarvis relies on four pitches: fastball, curveball, slider and changeup.
The Yankees drafted him in the 37th round last year, but he returned to Duke.
After making it to the Super Regional the past two seasons, the Blue Devils (12-4, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) were hoping to make it to the College World Series this year.
“I think we were destined to get there and had all the pieces in place and had the postseason experience from the last two years,” Jarvis said. “I think a lot of people were confident in that team’s ability to get to Omaha and it’s a shame that we didn’t have a chance to prove that.”
The draft has been shortened from 40 rounds to five due to COVID-19.
“That’s a pretty significant cut and I think it hurts a lot of guys’ chances of playing baseball,” Jarvis said. “There’s plenty of really good talent that goes after the fifth round. It’s not great for the game that the draft got shortened, but one bright side is I think you’re going to see some very good competition in college baseball next year.”
Jarvis doesn’t think there will be a minor league season this year due to the pandemic. He’s back at home in Brentwood.
BA coach Chandler Ganick will always wonder what kind of season Jarvis would have had if the pandemic didn’t end it early.
“I would have loved to see him put a full year in as a dominant pitcher just to see how dominant he could have been,” Ganick said. “The perfect game was unbelievable, but it wasn’t in a regional or the College World Series. I can only imagine what he would have done on those stages because he’s a guy that when the lights turn on, he’s a big-time guy.”
Two of Ganick’s brothers-in-law played minor league baseball. Former BA standout Jacob Stallings is a catcher for Pittsburgh.