First-round pick Bard signs with Sox

First-round pick Bard signs with Sox

BOSTON -- The Red Sox took a big step toward deepening the pitching talent in their farm system on Monday.

The club announced the signing of right-hander Daniel Bard, Boston's second first-round selection and the 28th overall pick of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. Jason McLeod, the director of amateur scouting, made the announcement. No terms were disclosed.

The 21-year-old out of the University of North Carolina will report to Boston's Florida Instructional League program in Fort Myers on Sept. 18.

In three seasons for the Tar Heels, Bard -- who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 202 pounds -- was 24-13 with a 3.92 ERA. He also racked up 239 strikeouts in 50 games, all but two of them as a starter. His 24 wins rank seventh on the Tar Heels' all-time list.

"He has a high ceiling," McLeod said. "He arguably has the best arm in the draft. We're really excited in the class and the potential they all have."

Red Sox scout Jeff Zona recommended Bard, who was ranked the 15th overall prospect and the No. 13 pitching prospect in the draft by Baseball America.

With Bard's signing, Boston has signed 27 of the 54 players it selected in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, including each of its first 13 picks.

"We're excited," McLeod said of the club's draft class. "We took some great guys who have a chance to make a big impression on us. The future of the organization looks bright."

Bard owns four career complete games and three shutouts, and has made at least 14 starts while working at least 85 innings in each season at North Carolina.

He played a key role as the Tar Heels advanced to the finals of the 2006 College World Series in Omaha. He earned the win in UNC's regional title victory over Winthrop and defeated Cal-State Fullerton in the game that sent the Tar Heels to the CWS Finals versus Oregon State. Bard was the starter and loser in the deciding third game of the championship series, allowing six hits and three runs -- one earned -- in 7 2/3 innings in a 3-2 defeat.

The resident of Charlotte, N.C., and a graduate of Charlotte Christian High School pitched for the Wareham Gatemen of the Cape Cod League in 2005, going 3-3 with a 1.25 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 65 innings of work. He led the league in strikeouts and ranked third in ERA. Named to Baseball America's College Summer All-America Second Team and rated the league's No. 2 prospect, he started the 2005 Cape League All-Star Game for the West Division and earned MVP honors.

Bard was originally drafted in the 20th round in 2003 by the New York Yankees but did not sign.

"The biggest thing was maturing," Bard said of his decision not to go pro when drafted by the Yankees. "I could have played [professionally] right out of high school, but I learned more by going [to college]. I also put on 15 to 20 pounds, my velocity improved and my breaking ball was improved. I'm a more mature player, a more mature pitcher."

With college classes beginning at North Carolina shortly, Bard admitted on Monday that he had a backup plan had the deal with the Red Sox not been finalized.

"I was registered for classes and made a payment as a backup plan," he said. "But I really wanted to get a deal done. I knew it might take some time."

Bard said there are currently no contract provisions for an invitation to Major League Spring Training in 2007, but added that could change later this fall.

Mike Petraglia is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.