After a stop at the University of Mississippi and a junior college, Hardy eventually went to Austin Peay. Three years later, Hardy gained just a few miles per hour on his fastball. However, he left with a school-record 32 wins and an Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year Award.Rangers Fan is convinced Rowdy will never make the big leagues, despite the fact that his name is ROWDY HARDY. "The braintrust will look at the radar gun and say no," he says. He was unswayed by my persistent argument that if a man named Rowdy Hardy can't get make it to the big leagues, then the world is too much with us and we are all bereft of hope. If Rowdy puts on a kilt, he'd be an Irish cackle away from choking out Hulk Hogan -- and people dare doubt he'll make the Majors? We say his stare would add 10, possibly 15 mph to his fastball, so radar guns be damned.
About 16 months after he graduated from college, the 24-year-old Hardy, who went undrafted, has dominated professional hitters the same way he did in high school and college.
While his fastball runs at 80-82 mph, Hardy, 6-foot-4 and 170 pounds, is still 15-4 with a 2.44 ERA for Class A Wilmington. Hardy, called the best control pitcher in the Carolina League by Baseball America, leads all Minor Leaguers in fewest walks per nine innings (0.84).
POSTSCRIPT: Stopper Brian Bannister pitches against the Tigers today, a true test for an ace-in-waiting.