Austin Wynns on catching Hunter Harvey, who pitches today

SARASOTA, Fla. - Among today’s pitchers for the Orioles’ split-squad afternoon game versus the Tampa Bay Rays will be right-hander Hunter Harvey, the club’s 2013 first-round pick.

It will be another much anticipated outing after Harvey’s spring debut Monday in Fort Myers versus the Twins, when his fastball was touching 97-98 mph on the radar gun. Plus Harvey is now throwing a splitter as his changeup and O’s hitters that faced him in live batting practice sessions are raving about him and that pitch.

Harvey threw almost all fastballs in just getting his feet wet for that outing Monday and the Twins squared some balls up. Byron Buxton hit a two-run homer. But Austin Wynns, who caught him that day, said Harvey is looking great and you don’t worry too much about results from a first outing where he was just establishing his fastball. Harvey continues to be healthy, and for a pitcher that has thrown just 63 2/3 innings the last four years, that is the biggest positive.

But the stuff is there and it looks real good.

Hunter Harvey throws black.png“He definitely has that heater,” Wynns said this morning in the Baltimore clubhouse. “It was, what, consistently 97 (mph)? He has three electric pitches. And that was his first outing in months. You can build off that. You can definitely build off that. As of now he looks healthy. And that is what is most important.”

Wynns said Harvey, who also has a plus curveball, threw just one splitter versus the Twins, as they were just looking to pound the zone with his fastball in a first spring game.

But over time, Wynns feels that split is going to emerge as potentially special pitch for the 24-year-old right-hander.

“Nasty. When his fingers are on top of that, that thing dances for sure. For strike to ball, it’s a nasty pitch and a pitch that he needs,” said Wynns.

The son of former big league closer Bryan Harvey, Hunter Harvey went 1-2 over nine starts for Double-A Bowie last year with an ERA of 5.57. His last outing was June 1. He missed time due posterior shoulder instability, which happened when Harvey twisted out the way of a foul ball in the Baysox dugout. He’s had such a rough road with injuries that he got hurt even when he wasn’t in a game. Harvey also dealt with elbow tenderness last September when throwing in Sarasota, but all is well now. Fingers are crossed for him throughout the organization. The kid might be great one day - if he can stay on the field.

Wynns is ready to help any way he can.

“Absolutely. I want the best for everyone in here and anything I can do for him, I will,” he said.

Wynns is trying to make his own impression in this camp, which features six catchers currently. He is 1-for-4 with an RBI in four games. He said camp is going smoothly for him so far.

“Love it. Body feels great. Healthy. Just go out there every day and compete. Compete, compete, compete. The group of guys we have is great,” he said. “Everyone puts the work in. There are not complaints. Yeah, we might be young, but there is so much opportunity here. The best player will play.”

Coverage today: I’ll have another broadcast of the Orioles-Rays game today beginning at 1 p.m. Alex Cobb starts versus Tampa Bay’s Charlie Morton.

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