He needed to clear his mind and relax, so Kyle Hart went golfing Saturday morning.
The left-handed pitcher went golfing after going undrafted through the first two days of the Major League Baseball Draft and after some teams made it seem like he might be drafted in the later rounds Friday.
After cleaning up his golf game and shooting a 75, Hart returned home to see he was drafted in the 19th round by the Boston Red Sox.
“A few minutes later they called and confirmed it,” Hart said. “It was a pretty exciting day, but probably the most exciting thing was my golf game getting cleaned up. It was a good day all around.”
This comes after a season during which Hart was the senior leader of IU’s starting rotation, pitching every Friday night against every other team’s top starter. Against that competition, Hart led the Big Ten in wins with 10 and posted a 3.29 ERA.
Hart leaves ranked No. 2 all-time at IU in victories with 31 in his five-year career.
Hart did acknowledge part of the reason he might have fallen further than he thought was his age. At 23 years old, the Cincinnati native was one of the oldest players drafted.
“My age obviously I think played a factor and scared a couple teams off and past injuries,” Hart said. “But at the end of the day you can ask anybody, everybody has their nicks and screws, everybody has a little bit of baggage.”
If anything, Hart said his age made him more draftable than many other players ahead of him. Yes, he has five more years of pitching on his arm than an 18-year-old coming out of high school, but he also has five more years of experience.
“There are so many good players where when they’re drafted ahead you, you can say it’s justified,” Hart said. “But in the back of my mind the competitor in me knows I’m just as capable if not more capable than some of these people.”
Another reason some teams might have been scared off, and the reason he spent five seasons at IU, is because of the injury.
Near the start of his junior season, Hart felt a twinge in his throwing elbow, and found out he needed Tommy John surgery. The rehab kept him out of the rest of the season.
But while some might view his injury as an unnecessary risk, Hart views it as a life experience. He views his grueling rehab process as evidence of his mental toughness and ability to adjust and mold himself to overcome adversity.
“There were days I woke up and thought I’d never throw again,” Hart said. “There were days I woke up and thought I was going to be Cy Young. That’s the hardest part of rehab, is to mentally stay locked in and mentally stay stable.”
So even though he knows he still needs to add about a mile per hour to all his pitches and a couple inches of break, it’s just part of the process.
“I’m going in with a good foundation of what I can improve upon, I’m not going in there blind,” Hart said. “I’m excited but aware that I have a lot of work to do to get to where I want to be.”
Throughout his life, Hart said he hasn’t played against a lineup he couldn’t get out. Every time, he could always figure out a way to get hitters out.
He said he understands that might change in professional baseball, but he also still hasn’t met a challenge he hasn’t conquered.
He credits that to his time spent in college. He said he knows how to deal with adversity. When he wasn’t drafted in the first two days of the draft, he was frustrated, but he also accepted it and went and improved what he could, even if that happened to be his golf game.
Hart is always looking for ways to improve himself.
“I’ll reinvent myself in a way that I can move on to the next level and the next level,” Hart said. “That’s what I think one of my best qualities is, is that I’m able to mold myself into what the team needs me to be.”
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