He has not pitched in a minor league game since July 25, 2014. But after a 2015 season where he dealt with an injury setback or two, Orioles 2013 first-round pick Hunter Harvey is hopeful for full health in 2016.
The 21-year-old right-hander has missed time due to a strained right flexor mass in addition to a shin injury that happened when he was hit by a batted ball last March.
About a week ago at spring training, Harvey told me, “I feel great. It is nice to finally not have any pain. That has been really good. I feel like it’s behind me now.”
For the second year in a row, Harvey was a non-roster invitee to major league camp. He was reassigned to minor league camp on March 14. On Saturday, Harvey pitched in an intrasquad game at Twin Lakes Park. He threw two scoreless innings on one hit with no walks and five strikeouts. Looks like he had a pretty good outing.
If he can stay healthy, how soon will Harvey be able to pick up where he left off in the summer of 2014 and return to top form?
“I don’t know if it will be easy,” he said. “Playing against these guys and taking a year off from facing hitters and being in that competitive swing, you have to battle it back and get back to where I was. I wouldn’t say it is going to be easy.”
Harvey was so dominant in high school that he didn’t need to throw a changeup and he did so only in bullpen sessions. But that pitch has made gains this spring
“Starting to feel real confident with my changeup,” he said. “Been throwing it a lot better than it has been. Just played with grips. In the offseason, me and dad (former big leaguer Bryan Harvey) played with four or five different grips until I found one I felt comfortable with. Been throwing it a lot trying to get a feel for it.”
* Meanwhile, another O’s first-round pick had another good day on Tuesday. Right-hander Dylan Bundy had another scoreless outing for the Orioles. Over his last four spring games, he has pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing just one hit and one unearned run with two walks and three strikeouts. Bundy has a 3.24 ERA in 8 1/3 spring training innings.
He seems to be getting better and better as the season opener approaches. Perhaps a healthy Bundy could be a real bullpen weapon and prove to be much more than just a player that has to be kept on the roster since he is now out of options.
His teammates have tried to help him adapt to life in the majors and working out of the bullpen. Pitcher Brad Brach said he’d like to help Bundy any way he can with anything he can. He’s been happy to provide advice.
“Just about the daily things,” Brach said. “Last year was my first full season in the majors and just anything I can help him with. Whether it is what time to get to the field. What should you do when you get here. Just some things maybe outside of baseball, which really helps. More the mental part of the game than the physical part. We all pull for each other and help each other here.”
* Maybe it’s never too soon to talk about the offseason and free agency. In a look ahead to the 2016-2017 offseason, MLBTradeRumors.com has ranked the top 10 free agents for next winter. The Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg tops the list, which includes two Toronto Blue Jays in the top five. Carlos Gomez is second followed by Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.
Update: Here are some notes on Tuesday’s minor league games. The Orioles played Boston with Triple-A Norfolk and Double-A Bowie at home while Single-A Frederick and Single-A Delmarva played in Fort Myers.
Norfolk won 5-0 - Pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez went 5 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts. Pitcher Jason Stoffel pitched a scoreless inning with three strikeouts. Mike Carp went 1-for-2 with an RBI single.
Bowie won 9-6 - Pitcher Chris Lee went 2 2/3 innings allowing three runs (one earned) with one walk and three strikeouts. Drew Dosch was 1-for-1 with a triple. Jay Gonzalez was 1-for-2 with a double, walk and stolen base.
Frederick played to a 0-0 tie - Pitcher John Means went three scoreless innings on two hits with no walks and two strikeouts.
Delmarva won 9-4 - Pitcher Lucas Long went three innings allowing four hits and one run with one walk and three strikeouts. Ryan McKenna went 3-for-4 with three singles. Alejandro Juvier went 2-for-3 with two singles and a walk. Jason Heinrich was 1-for-1 with a double and walk. Michael Odenwaelder was 1-for-2 with a double.