Senior right-handed pitcher Jason Bartz was the first of three Bulls taken in the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft Tuesday when he was selected in the 17th round by the Kansas City Royals.
Bartz, the 498th pick overall, ended his injury-plagued second season with the Bulls with a 5.23 ERA and a 1-3 record. USF baseball coach Eddie Cardieri had planned for Bartz to be a mainstay in his starting rotation, but injuries limited his playing time after the early weeks of the season.
His sole win of the season came in six innings of relief as Bulls pitching threw a five-hit shutout against UMass on March 3. Bartz made 16 starts and five relief appearances this season.
However, his injuries limited his time on the mound.
“Losing him affected our team so much,” Cardieri said. “Having him not throw cost us in the rotation, he would have been our one, two or three starter all season. We took some hits this season, with him and a few (other pitchers) healthy, I bet we’d have won 10 more games.”
Pitching coach Nelson North agreed with Cardieri’s assessment.
“When Bartz went down, it was hard to even look at him at times when we were down,” North said. “There is no replacing starting pitching. It’s a void in the staff. If he was healthy, it changes the entire complexion of the season.”
Bartz spent his first two seasons of college at Manatee Community College before coming to USF. This is the second time the Royals have selected Bartz. Coming out of Manatee High School in 1998, Kansas City picked Bartz in the 33rd round that year.
Kansas City scouting director Deric Ladnier went back to Florida to add Bartz after the Royals used their first and second round picks on Sunshine State high schoolers Zach Greinke, a right-hander from Apopka and catcher Adam Donachie of Timber Creek.
“A guy who can pitch,” Ladnier told MLB.com. “Fifth-type starter, kind of a middle man. A college guy we can get into the system and push his development.”
North pointed to Bartz’s strength early in the season as the reason why the Royals picked him.
“Early on, he was throwing 88 to 92 mph (on his fastball). I think he reached up to 94,” North said.
Along with a fastball averaging in the high 80s, Bartz has a good breaking ball and has proven strong in long inning stretches for the Bulls during his last two seasons.
“(Bartz) went based on what they saw early in the season,” Cardieri said. “At Stetson and at BCC, in a 13-inning game, he pitched real well early on with velocity up in the low 90s.
“I guess they figure if you ever could, you still can.”
The only one of the Bulls’ high school signees to be picked in the draft was Devin Anderson, who was picked by the Atlanta Braves in the 28th round as the 845th pick.
According to North, Anderson will listen to the Braves’ offer, but after talking to the young pitcher on Wednesday, he is confident Anderson will join the Bulls’ roster.