Any scouting report on Dylan Hardy begins with one observation: Man he can jet.
The former D’Iberville infielder has speed to burn. Despite being relegated to more of a reserve role as a freshman at South Alabama in 2016, Hardy still stole 13 bases — in 13 attempts. The Jaguars had four players rack up double-digit steals, but Hardy was the only one who went uncaught.
Hardy only hit .211 in 19 at-bats, but two of his four hits were doubles. He also scored 12 times and ended up with a .423 on-base percentage after drawing six walks.
USA coach Mark Calvi recently said he expects Hardy to put his best tool to work this season in an expanded role for the Jaguars.
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“He is bigger and stronger, and has maintained his speed,” Calvi said on the school’s website. “He is still one of the fastest guys in college baseball. But I think his instincts have gotten better, both in the box and running bases.”
Hardy actually opened the 2016 batting leadoff and in left field for USA against Evansville. He recorded his first double in a 1-for-2 showing but made two errors in left field and was later replaced.
Calvi believes between summer league action and fall ball Hardy has greatly improved in the field — to the point that the converted infielder may get playing time in center field.
“Hardy is one of our better outfielders right now; he has worked extremely hard at his game both physically and mentally,” he said. “With that confidence, hopefully you see a guy who plays the game free and easy and can steal some bases for us.”
USA opens its 2017 season at home with a three-game series against Eastern Illinois.