ABERDEEN, Md - To say the least, Aberdeen manager Matt Merullo was impressed tonight when the Orioles 2013 first round draft pick, Hunter Harvey made his debut for the short-season, Single-A IronBirds.
Harvey went 4 1/3 innings, throwing 77 pitches and gave up four hits (two infield hits) and one unearned run. He walked one and fanned five and now has an ERA of 1.02 over six pro outings.
"Very impressive," Merullo said. "Not only his stuff, but his poise, his presence. He looked like he'd been out there for years. It was a real treat watching him pitch.
"He was intimidating, he was not intimidated. That is what good pitchers do. He fed off the crowd and off the spotlight. He felt no pressure.
"As far as command of his pitches and the ease with which the ball came out, it looked like a blur from the dugout. It was fun to watch some of the hitter's expressions from Hudson Valley. Some of those guys took deep breaths and stepped out of the box."
Merullo knows what a good prospect looks like. He spent 13 years as a scout for Arizona before joining the O's organization. He said Harvey looked every bit like the first round pick that he is.
"He looks like he's 14, but he pitched like he is about 34," Merullo said. "You know, you have a body that will get stronger and fill out. The ease of delivery and command of a plus fastball and plus breaking ball. When you take a guy in the first round you are trying to find a top of the rotation guy and that is what he looked like."
Harvey pitched at 93 and 94 mph with his fastball and touched 95 a few times in the opening innings. He mixed in a few changeups too.
He admitted he had some pregame nerves tonight, but he was pleased with his outing.
"Pretty good. Had a lot of adrenaline going tonight," Harvey said. "I thought it was pretty good for my first outing up here.
"My curveball was working good tonight, I was carrying the arm speed. Got a little slower (with velocity) in the late innings there but other than that, worked good tonight."
It was a real strong first outing here for the 18-year-old right-hander, who makes his second Aberdeen start Monday at Lowell. Merullo said he has no plans to suggest any adjustments or changes for the talented young pitcher.
"Nope, stay right where you are. Put him on ice until Monday," Merullo said.