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New All-Star Up to Bat : Hunter Barco

“No one in my family has ever played baseball” Barco said. His dad was a kicker for Florida State and his mom a cheerleader at Florida Southern, “Baseball didn’t run in the family, I played t-ball when I was younger like most little kids do and I’ve loved it ever since. I keep playing now because I love the game and I’ve always loved it and there’s nothing else I’d want to do than play baseball”.

Hunter Barco started playing baseball when he was five years old at the Navy Ortega Lakeshore Little League team. “It’s always been a dream to play in the Major Leagues. Whether that comes in the draft in June or in three years after playing at Florida I don’t know. I just can’t wait to see what happens next” Barco said.

Bolles Bulldogs Chipper Jones and Austin Slater, both major league players, took different paths to get there. Jones was drafted immediately after highschool and Slater after 3 years of college ball. Hunter is on a similar path and will follow either Jones or Slater’s footprint. Currently, the MLB predicts that he will be selected third in the 2019 draft.

At 14, Barco (19’) committed to the University of Virginia for baseball, “Everything just seemed so surreal. I didn’t really know what was going on, then they called me and the next thing you know I’m up there on a visit and I commit on the spot”.

Scouting outlets have Barco ranked among the top 10 high school baseball prospects in the country for the 2019 class, “It was really cool being so young and being able to say that you’re committed to college baseball. It takes a lot of stress off your shoulders. It was awesome being able to go through that experience so early and being able to focus on just school and baseball”.

Now, Barco is verbally committed to University of Florida, “UF is close to home, has a great baseball team, and an amazing coaching staff. You can’t really argue with what they’ve done” Barco said. The Gators have won a total of fifteen SEC regular season championships, second most among the fourteen current SEC members. Their most recent title came in 2018 under coach Kevin O’Sullivan. Given their record, Barco will fit right in, “I love the campus and it’s just a great atmosphere to play in”

However, before Hunter can look at college and professional baseball, he has to finish his senior season at Bolles. For the past 3 seasons the bulldogs have gone to state, winning two championships, “We have a big chip on our shoulder being from Bolles because we’ve been there 3 years in a row and everyone expects us to make it a fourth, so that’s the biggest responsibility this season” Barco said. The team will look different this year as many players graduated, “It’s a lot different especially with all of the seniors leaving last year, we had 3 guys go into D1 baseball so it will be a different environment for sure with the guys. A lot of young guys, so I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to lead them beside the other seniors we have this year”. Hunter Barco participated in the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field, and is a two-time All-First Coast selection and this season’s Class 5A player of the year. However, among those victories he’s most proud of the success he’s been apart of at Bolles, “Playing in the home-run derby this year and the All American games were cool but I would say making it to 3 state championships in a row and wining 2 of them has been the most rewarding. You know it’s different when your out during the summer because you’re friends with all the guys but it’s not the guys you grew up with. “It means the most to me playing with the guys you see everyday in the hallways and going and winning with them” Barco said.

Jimmy Lyons, Bolles baseball coach says that high school baseball is only the beginning for Hunter, “Hunter is a unique player in that he is so physically gifted that he hasn’t had to worry very much about how or why he is able to do what does” Lyons said. “He is just now starting to explore the details of the game that make baseball such a beautiful sport. He undoubtedly has a gift, but he has a whole new world that he is just beginning to see. I cannot wait to see what he does when he learns about all the things he doesn’t even know exist. I feel very fortunate to be a part of that process”.

Coach Lyons said Hunter doesn’t just focus on one position but contributes to every phase of the game, “He has been most dominant on the mound but he is also a dangerous hitter who can change a game with one swing and he’s a big target for infielders to throw to at first base”.

Barco has had a successful career so far and luckily hasn’t had to deal with any injuries, “Everything has pretty much been on the up and up. I mean there are always downtimes, baseball is a game of failure. If you fail 7/10 times you’ll still be in the hall of fame… that’s just how it works. Pretty much just keeping your head through all of the accomplishments is the best thing. The best thing to do is just stay humble”.

  Originally Published in the Bolles Bugle 

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