ABERDEEN, Md. - For pitcher Hunter Harvey, the Orioles 2013 first round draft pick, his first few weeks as a pro have gone really well. Now the next step in his climb up the minor league ladder has arrived and he'll make a start for the short-season, Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds on Tuesday night at Ripken Stadium.
In Aberdeen this afternoon, Harvey said he's excited for his IronBirds debut.
"The first time I've been in this area," Harvey said." "I know how well they have been doing and hope I can help them."
The right-hander made five starts in the Gulf Coast League going 0-0 with a 1.35 ERA. Over 13 1/3 innings, Harvey walked just two and fanned 18. Right-handed batters have gone just 4-for-28 with 12 strikeouts against him.
After going 3 1/3 innings and throwing 60 pitches in his last outing, that pitch count could be bumped up a bit for Tuesday's start.
The 18-year-old from Catawba, North Carolina said it is pretty easy to identify the big difference between high school and pro ball.
"The talent you pitch against.In high school it wasn't that hard to get people out and throw it by them," Harvey said. "Now, you have to learn how to pitch and use all your pitches and you can't just overpower people with a fastball.
"It's been awesome. Way better than high school baseball. There is a lot of work you have to put in but it's been really fun so far."
Since giving up two runs in his second outing, Harvey has pitched 10 1/3 scoreless innings over three outings with 16 strikeouts.
He's been throwing his fastball between 91 and 94 mph to go along with his two secondary pitches and he feels like he's some improvements with all three since joining the O's organization.
"My changeup is getting a little bit better and my curveball command has been getting better too. Fastball is getting better. Everything has been improving with all the help you get," he said.
Harvey was working with pitching coach Wilson Alvarez with the GCL O's and said that O's director of pitching development, Rick Peterson, spent some time working with him in Florida as well. He also took part in the O's biomechanical testing program.
Aberdeen manager Matt Merullo has his club leading its division by one game in search of the IronBirds' first-ever playoff berth.
He is happy to have Harvey help the cause and put into perspective what tomorow's start truly means.
Tomorrow is a big night for Hunter and IronBirds. But, in the long run really, it is a small step in what is hopefully a long and successful career in Baltimore.