PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - The first career Grapefruit League start today for Hunter Harvey lasted two innings and featured a 95 mph fastball and glimpses of how he became the top pitching prospect in the organization.
Harvey became the club’s fourth starter this spring to allow one run over two innings, joining Mike Wright Jr., Nestor Cortes Jr. and Gabriel Ynoa. Harvey gave up three hits, walked one and struck out three - all of them with a heater that topped out at 95.
Getting ahead of hitters was a challenge for Harvey, who threw 20 of 36 pitches for strikes over two innings. He fell behind the first three batters in the second, walking Justin Williams on four pitches, but struck out Jake Cronenworth to strand two runners.
Denard Span and Kevin Kiermaier opened the first inning with back-to-back singles, the latter on a ground ball past diving first baseman Garabez Rosa. Christian Arroyo, a late substitution for Matt Duffy at third base, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play on an 81 mph curveball.
Harvey struck out Jake Bauers to end the inning.
Wilson Ramos led off the second with a single, Joey Wendle struck out looking and Williams walked. Mallex Smith bounced into a 5-4 force and stole second base before Cronenworth swung through a fastball.
Rays starter Nate Eovaldi, making his first appearance since undergoing his second Tommy John surgery, retired all four batters he faced and threw 11 of 14 pitches for strikes. He struck out Alex Presley and Austin Hays.
I’ll update this entry with quotes from Harvey.
Update: Left-hander Chris Lee replaced Harvey, retired Span on a ground ball and left the game with athletic trainer Chris Poole. He appeared to be holding his right side.
The Orioles will provide an update later on his condition.
Update II: Here are some quotes from Harvey:
On how nice it was to start today: “It felt awesome. Felt good to be back on the mound and face hitters again.”
On fastball clocked at 95 mph: “I wasn’t even worried going into the game, really. Just getting back on the mound and actually pitching again.”
On his curveball: “Not my best one today, but it felt good.”
On whether he was nervous: “Not really nervous, no. Not really.”
On thoughts while facing some veteran hitters: “It was just weird. I remember watching Denard Span play for a long time, so it was cool to face him, cool to get in there against some big league hitters and kind of get a taste of it.”
On where he needs to improve: “Really, just controlling my body. I kind of felt a little crazy out there. I guess it was just the first time being out there in a long time. Trying to get my body back under me and just command the ball a little better.”
On whether he’s trying to leave O’s with tough decision: “That’s my goal coming into camp. It’s nice. They told me all offseason, ‘Hey, you’re up in the air now, your just like anybody else.’ So being able to hear that, it puts a little fire in you.”
On chance to get more starts: “I love starting. Been able to get in my own routine like I always have. I’ve pitched out of the bullpen a couple times in spring training. It’s different. I can handle it, but it’s different. But I love starting. It’s just a different mentality.”
Update III: Garabez Rosa led off the top of the sixth inning with a home run to left field to tie the game 1-1.
Update V: The Orioles earned their first victory of the spring, defeating the Rays 2-1. James Teague recorded the save with a shutdown ninth inning, including a strikeout. The 23-year-old right-hander pitched at short-season Single-A Aberdeen and low Single-A Delmarva last year.
The Orioles are now 1-4-1 in Grapefruit League play.