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Hart ready to begin career after signing with Orioles

Staff Photo: John Bohn Parkview's Josh Hart (16) scores a run on a stand up double hit by teammate Marc Marshall during the third inning against Tift County in a second round Class AAAAA playoff game on Wednesday.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Parkview's Josh Hart (16) scores a run on a stand up double hit by teammate Marc Marshall during the third inning against Tift County in a second round Class AAAAA playoff game on Wednesday.

Josh Hart joined the growing list of Gwinnett County's 2013 class from the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft to sign his first professional contract by agreeing to terms with the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday.

According to multiple on-line reports, the recent Parkview grad and three-time Daily Post All-County outfielder agreed to a $1.45 million signing bonus.

While Hart would not discuss the exact figure, he did confirm his signing bonus is very close to the suggested slot value of $1,508,600 set by Major League Baseball for someone drafted with the No. 37 overall pick -- enough for the 6-foot, 180-pound speedster to forgo a college career at Georgia Tech, which he signed a National Letter of Intent with last fall.

"It's pretty close," Hart said. "It's something I can settle on. I kind of knew from the beginning I was ready to start my professional career. (Tech) was kind of a back pocket situation. I can always go back (to college). Right now, I'm focused on my baseball craft. I'm just eager to begin the experience and have fun."

Hart, who hit .449 with five home runs, 29 RBIs, 39 runs scored and 33 stolen bases in helping the Panthers to the Region 8-AAAAAA championship in the Class AAAAAA state semifinals this spring, is expected to join the Orioles' Gulf Coast Rookie League affiliate in Sarasota, Fla., sometime early next week.

If all goes well for him there, he could wind up with the Aberdeen (Md.) Ironbirds in the Class A (short season) New York-Penn League before the summer is over.

Hart's signing made him the fourth member of Gwinnett's eight-player class of 2013 to begin his pro career.

He joins former South Gwinnett and Southern Polytechnic State pitcher Nick Blount, who signed with the Chicago White Sox on June 12, plus former North Gwinnett and Chattahoochee Valley Community College pitcher Nick Jones (San Francisco Giants) and Mill Creek outfielder Bryan Hudson (Boston Red Sox), both of whom signed this past Tuesday.

Gwinnett's top pick in this year's draft, recent Grayson grad and Daily Post Player of the Year Austin Meadows, has not yet signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates, which took him with the No. 9 overall pick, though he is expected to soon.

Also remaining unsigned are Parkview catcher Jarrett Freeland (Cincinnati Reds, 15th round), Grayson left-handed pitcher/outfielder Chris Erwin (Minnesota Twins, 28th round) and Mill Creek grad and current Tech right-handed pitcher Matt Grimes (Philadelphia Phillies, 31st round).