Gary Rajsich on Harvey: “He is a projected front-of-the-rotation pitcher”

The Orioles drafted three high school players tonight in the First-Year Player Draft, but scouting director Gary Rajsich said that was not the exact game plan heading into the draft.

“No, it wasn’t really mapped out that way,” Rajsich said. “It’s just kind of how the draft fell. We feel like we did get three young players that we really like and we do trust our player development people.

“We went into the day with a short- and long-term perspective. It just didn’t work out that way, but we do feel like we got three players that we really like.”

The O’s selected Hunter Harvey with the 22nd pick of the first round out of Bandys High in Catawba, N.C.

Harvey, the son of former big league closer Bryan Harvey, went 8-0 this year with an ERA of 0.38. Over 54 2/3 innings, he fanned 116 batters.

“We looked at the talent, first of all,” Rajsich said of Harvey. “We knew he was an advanced high school pitcher. He is a projected front-of-the-rotation pitcher. There weren’t any more of those available around there (where we picked). We were hoping he’d get to us, but we weren’t sure. A lot of upside there, which is very appealing. We think he has a chance to move very fast through our system.”

Harvey said he felt he could sign pretty soon with the Orioles and get his pro career started.

“Yeah, I think it will be a very quick process because I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life and now that it is finally here, I don’t want to mess around. I’m ready to go start playing,” he said tonight on a conference call with Baltimore reporters.

In the first competitive balance round with the 37th pick, the Orioles added Georgia high school outfielder Josh Hart, who bats and throws left-handed. A speedy center fielder for Parkview High, Hart has a college commitment to Georgia Tech. Rated the fifth-best center fielder in the draft by Baseball America, Hart played on back-to-back state championship teams in 2011 and 2012.

In round two with the 61st pick, the Orioles drafted California high school catcher Chance Sisco.

Rajsich said Harvey was the highest ranked player on his draft board when it was the Orioles’ selection. Did the fact that he could be very signable factor into the decision to draft him?

“The fact he was signable, it helps, but it was probably the third ... you know, it was another reason to take him, but it wasn’t the main one,” Rajsich said. “He’s advanced as far as his mechanics. There are no major changes to make just adjustments.”

Rajsich projected that all three of tonight’s picks would likely start playing in the Gulf Coast League when signed.

“We think (Harvey) can move fast,” Rajsich said. “I think the average time is a little less than three years for a high school right-hander to get to the big leagues. We don’t see any reason he couldn’t be on that schedule.”

When asked how soon he could get Harvey signed, Rajsich said, “Hopefully very soon.”

Here are Rajsich’s comments on Hart and Sisco:

“Hart was also on our list of five to seven guys we would have taken with our first pick had Harvey not been there, so obviously we’re thrilled. To get both of them, we are really ecstatic about it.

“(Hart) is a dynamic player. He has a really good chance to stay in center field. He has five tools now, so you don’t have to project. Just a matter of time and playing and that he gets bigger and stronger.

“Chance Sisco, he just started catching this year, but he’s a hitter who also catches. We like his bat a lot and think he will have power. He just started catching and he looks natural back there. There is something to work with. He has a chance to learn and be a real good, frontline catcher.

“We are thrilled. We got three high school kids with upside.”

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