Hometown Report

Hometown Report: Granite Bay’s Hart stays cool when scouts are drawn to his heat

M itch Hart doesn’t just throw a baseball. The Granite Bay High School power pitcher offers screaming lasers that draw a crowd.

Friends, family, classmates, teachers, fans and scouts have come out this spring to see the 6-foot-3 senior’s fastball that has been clocked in the mid-90s – and that could make him the region’s highest-drafted pitcher next month.

About 40 scouts watched Hart face Sierra Foothill League rival Rocklin on Monday in a duel against Logan Webb, another promising pitcher. A sea of radar guns recorded every pitch Hart unleashed. He hit 92 mph, then 94, then 96, with several scouts double-checking their readings.

Hart will take the mound Monday at Davis against the Blue Devils’ Matt Trask in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoff opener, and scouts will arrive early to get the best positions.

“I love the pressure that the scouts bring to games,” Hart said. “If you aren’t excited when pitching in front of a ton of MLB scouts, then you don’t want to be a major leaguer bad enough. But controlling that excitement and the nerves is what I feel like I do well.”

Hart, who has an eye for detail, has met scores of scouts, and he remembers their names.

“It’s fun to check behind the backstop and see who is there,” Hart said. “I’ve met with scouts from just about all 30 major-league teams, so I can put a name to a face for every one.”

Hart allowed one hit and struck out eight in 61/3 innings against Rocklin. Webb’s stock soared, too, in a 1-0 victory; he also allowed one hit and and struck out six in five innings, and his first pitch registered 96 on the radar guns, with scouts elbowing each other as if to say, “Is this right?”

When you can throw like Hart and Webb, scouts and other MLB personnel become a part of your life. Hart is used to this; Webb met 17 scouts after Monday’s game.

“It was like a movie,” said Rob Willson, the Sierra College baseball coach who watched with a bit of awe, too. “All those guns go up to watch those two pitch, then the scouts look at each other and wonder, ‘Wow.’ Both of those kids are terrific.”

And both have options.

Hart has a scholarship with USC but said if he’s drafted high enough, it could sway him away from college.

Webb, a 6-2 senior, has been offered a chance to attend Sacramento State, where coach Reggie Christiansen has led the Hornets to three consecutive 30-win seasons. Players who elect to go to a four-year college must attend for three years before signing a professional contract, but Webb also could go to a community college, such as nearby Sierra, and become draft-eligible after one season.

Hart spoke to Webb for the first time just days before that SFL showdown. They appreciate each other’s live arms.

“He’s a heck of a competitor and a great talent,” Hart said of Webb. “I’m excited to see what he’s going to become because there’s no ceiling for him.”

Even with all his baseball achievements and potential, Hart said he cannot match the gifts of girlfriend Kelsey Sweeting, a Granite Bay senior who has a dance scholarship to the Tisch School of the Arts, one of 15 schools that make up New York University. Hart took Sweeting to the senior ball and gleefully admitted she was the star attraction. He jokes they are a “power couple at Granite Bay.”

“I’d rather pitch in front of 30 scouts than in front of her and her parents because that’s real pressure,” Hart said with a laugh.