The Orioles drafted a high school right-hander with their first-round pick in 2011 and the next year, he began his first full pro season in the South Atlantic League. It appears that will happen again with another young right-hander they drafted 22nd overall out of the high school ranks last June.
Dylan Bundy was on the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds opening day roster two years ago and Hunter Harvey is expected to begin the 2014 season pitching at Perdue Stadium.
Harvey, who turned 19 in December, made a strong first impression after the draft last season. He went 0-1 with a 1.78 ERA over eight starts between the Gulf Coast League and short-season Single-A Aberdeen.
If you count five no-hit innings Harvey pitched in a New York-Penn League playoff game on Sept. 7 for Aberdeen, he gave up 21 hits with six walks and 40 strikeouts over 30 1/3 innings last season.
Even after such a small sample size, Harvey is starting to gain some national attention. He was ranked No. 38 on the top 100 list by ESPN’s Keith Law and No. 58 by Baseball Prospectus. He is ranked by most as either the Orioles’ No. 3 or No. 4 prospect.
The O’s staff has certainly taken a much longer look at the kid than the 30 1/3 innings might indicate. He was at the team’s instructional league last September, was at the O’s pitching mini-camp in Sarasota in January, rubbing elbows with big leaguers, and was on the early report list to minor league camp last week.
“He was very impressive in the mini-camp that Buck (Showalter) and the major league staff had,” O’s director of player development Brian Graham said. “He’s young and inexperienced but certainly has a good arm and we’ll see. Give him a chance to go out and pitch. I think he has a very bright future.
“It’s a matter of experience. The likelihood is he’ll start at Delmarva in the rotation and it’s just a matter of getting innings and experience.”
Graham didn’t want to provide specifics on the exact plan for Harvey for 2014, but the team has a clear plan designed, even if it doesn’t make it public. It would seem an innings load between 100 and 125 innings would be appropriate for a young pitcher in his first full pro season. Bundy pitched 103 2/3 innings during the 2012 season, often working as part of a six-man rotation.
“When you pick a young kid like Hunter Harvey, he has to get used to the grind of the 140-game season in the minor leagues and the grind of pitching every fifth or sixth day with bullpen routines that he is not used to, coming out of high school,” Graham said. “It’s a development process and that is what he is going to experience this year.”
More on Harvey: For an excellent article from MiLB.com with some quotes from Harvey, click here.
Here is one question and answer from that article.
MiLB.com: It’s obviously still early in your baseball development, but with your father enjoying such a good career, do you need to have a career like his to consider yourself successful?
Harvey: I want to be better than my dad, I want to have bragging rights over him. We’re always in a little challenge, always competing. One of my goals is to be better than my brother and my dad. I was in their shadows, but I’m starting to come out and people are starting to hear a little bit about me, but I am still in my dad’s shadows just a little bit. If people know me, they automatically know who my dad is. But he has stayed on me hard my whole life and there was no goofing off, especially when it came to baseball. He’d push me and make me work hard.
I think the way me and my dad play, we both go right after hitters. We don’t try to play around with people, we just attack them. I watch a lot of (Justin) Verlander and I watch how he overpowers people with his fastball-curveball, and that’s what I’ve tried to do in high school and in my first year in pro ball.
As a top pick, Harvey will be a high-profile O’s minor leaguer this year, which comes with the territory. We’ll see if the O’s keep him with Delmarva all year and let him settle in there or decide to promote him at some point to Single-A Frederick. He sure flashed his talent late last summer and I would think he should do real well with the Shorebirds come April.