Hunter Harvey shows his potential plus other notes

SARASOTA, Fla. - It’s been said more than a few times about Orioles pitching prospect Hunter Harvey: The talent is clearly there, he just needs to finally stay healthy.

We were reminded of that this week. Harvey dazzled during a live batting practice session on Thursday at Ed Smith Stadium. I know this even though I didn’t arrive here until yesterday as I checked out this entry. Among those he faced was Trey Mancini. Harvey has apparently added a split-finger fastball to his repertoire and it was solid that day.

“That splitter is the pitch,” said Mancini. “It’s a major league pitch right there. I know health’s been the name of the game for Hunter, but we’ve all seen it whenever he’s healthy. He’s a special talent out there and his stuff will play in the major leagues. That’s a fact.”

Hunter Harvey throws orange.pngAdded manager Brandon Hyde: “That was impressive. Healthy. That’s the No. 1 thing, but, yeah, his stuff was electric. There was a lot of chatter around the cage about his stuff. Off to a great start with him. But the main thing is his health. He came off the mound feeling great and real positive, for sure.”

During an interview Thursday, Mancini remembered how Harvey was the ace of the Single-A Delmarva team in 2014 that Mancini played for. He also referenced a game from that year when Harvey and Lucas Giolito dueled at Perdue Stadium in a matchup of 19-year-old top 100 pitching prospects.

That jogged my memory, as I was reminded that I covered that game on a cold April night in Salisbury. The game was sparsly attended due to the weather and a 5:05 p.m. weeknight start as the opener of a doubleheader after a rainout the previous day.

Those pitchers didn’t disappoint that night, throwing a combined 11 innings, allowing no runs and three singles.

Harvey: 6 innings pitched, 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, 2 hit batters, 90 pitches
Giolito: 5 innings pitched, 2 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts, 66 pitches

After that game, Harvey talked about facing another top prospect in this entry.

“Yeah, I knew he was out there,” he said. “I really just went out there and pitched my game. He pitched his and did a heckuva job. But I just went out there and did what I was born to do really.”

Harvey has had so many injury issues since the second half of that 2014 season. He’s thrown just 63 2/3 innings the last four years. But the talent remains and Thursday was another example.

The pitch timer arrives: For the first time beginning today, there will be a pitch clock in big league games. The 20-second clock will start when the spring training games do and that’s today for the Orioles. There will be no enforcement or penalties issues until much later in spring as Major League Baseball allows both the players and umpires to simply get used to the clock for now. Also, no decision yet on whether we’ll see the clock during the regular season.

The timer stops when the pitcher begins his windup motion or begins the motion to come set, and not when he releases the pitch. In Friday’s announcement, it was stated that “later in spring training, and depending on the status of the negotiations with the Major League Baseball Players Association, umpires will be instructed to begin assessing ball-strike penalties for violations.”

A hurler making a pickoff throw will reset the clock and the clock also resets if a pitcher steps off the rubber with a runner on base.

The games arrive: Today it’s “Play ball!” for the Orioles as they host the Minnesota Twins at 1:05 p.m. at Ed Smith Stadium in their spring training opener. The competition for roster spots is vast, with a lot of uncertainty at the catcher position along with the middle infield, third base, the back end of the rotation, at least one outfield spot and at least a couple of bullpen spots.

I’ll join Mike Bordick for today’s radio broadcast on 105.7 FM The Fan and the Orioles Radio Network. I’ll be filling in and handling play-by-play duties, with Jim Hunter working the telecast on MASN. Air time for both radio and TV today is 1 p.m.

So, what are you most looking forward to seeing in the early spring games?

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