SARASOTA, Fla. - The clubhouse filled up this afternoon with numerous officials from the Major League Baseball Players Association, including former Orioles outfielders Jeffrey Hammonds and Bobby Bonilla, making the Ed Smith Stadium complex their latest stop for the annual round of meetings, which attracted players from minor league camp who are on the 40-man roster and therefore included in the discussions.
Harvey, 24, was included among the eight players sent out in the first round of cuts back on March 3. He appeared in only two exhibition games and allowed two runs in two innings.
The fastball topped out at 98 mph in his debut against the Twins on Feb. 25 and he tossed a scoreless inning in his follow-up appearance against the Rays before manager Brandon Hyde gave him the news.
“I was a little surprised just because we were so far out from games on the other side,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting it, but it’s part of it and everything’s been good since it happened.”
Harvey has been stretched out to three innings at Twin Lakes Park and will slot into a minor league rotation. He was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, but could return to Double-A Bowie, where he made only nine starts last year before the Orioles shut him down with a shoulder injury and later discomfort in his forearm.
“It’s going good. Finally starting to build innings up, so it’s been good. Awesome so far,” he said.
“My fastball’s getting that natural cut back on it like it did when I was first drafted, so it feels good coming out of my hand. When I pitched the other day everything was good and everything looks like we’re going the right way.”
The weeks spent in major league camp allowed pitching coach Doug Brocail to draw his own conclusions on Harvey.
He heard and read the glowing reports and he knew the injury history. Side sessions and a couple of exhibition games would provide a more accurate read.
“Electric stuff,” Brocail said. “This kid’s going to pitch in the big leagues for a long time.”
It’s always been a matter of keeping Harvey on the mound, a series of injuries and mishaps stalling his career since the Orioles made him the 22nd overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Bandys High School in North Carolina.
“For me, he was healthy,” Brocail said. “Getting the innings built up, getting him to where he’s comfortable in a big league uniform, getting him around Cash (Andrew Cashner) and (Alex) Cobb and (Dylan) Bundy and Mychal (Givens), those are important steps.
“You send a kid out and you go, ‘Could I have used him longer before they got to their games down there?’ That’s a decision from up top. But I like what I see.
“His last side session I think he made some big strides with the split. Me and his father (Bryan Harvey) had talked about the splitty. He was our guy that taught the split in Texas. We both agreed he wants to see the action. Let it rip. And finally we got him to let it rip in the side session and I’m like, ‘Wow, I can’t wait for your next outing.’ The problem was we sent him out, so I didn’t get to see that one extra outing. I’d have loved to have seen it just to see how that played.
“Fastball exceptional, off-speed exceptional. This kid, when he gets to where he’s ready for the big leagues, he’ll never look back.”