Finally away from the Gulf Coast League's hot and humid midday games in Florida, Orioles first-round draft pick Hunter Harvey took to the mound for the first time in the state where he hopes to make his pro career.
And before an announced 5,485 — including his parents and some Orioles officials — at Ripken Stadium to see Harvey in his debut for short-season Single-A Aberdeen, the right-hander thrived.
With his fastball at 93 and 94 mph while mixing in a high-70s curveball and occasional changeup, Harvey allowed one unearned run on four hits and one walk in 41/3 innings while striking out five. Two of the singles Harvey allowed were infield hits.
Harvey exited with a runner on third that scored on an errant pickoff throw by Dylan Rheault and took the loss in the IronBirds' 1-0 defeat to Hudson Valley.
“It was a little bit harder to get them out here,” said Harvey, 18. “All in all, I like this better than the Gulf Coast League. Getting to play in front of fans and play night games, it's real baseball. I really like it.”
Facing the second batter of the game, the right-hander showcased the talent that compelled the Orioles to select him with the No. 22 pick in June's draft out of Bandys High School in Catawba, N.C. Hudson Valley second baseman Ariel Soriano worked a 2-2 count against pitches that clocked at 95, 95, 94 and 94mph on the Ripken Stadium radar gun. Then, Harvey fooled Soriano with an 81 mph breaking ball for his first strikeout of the game.
“He looks like he's 14, but he pitched like he was about 34,” Aberdeen manager Matt Merullo said.
Through the first six games of his professional career, Harvey has struck out 23 batters and walked only three in 172/3 innings. He has a 1.02 ERA between the Gulf Coast League and Aberdeen.
Harvey allowed runners in the second, third and fifth innings. In the second and third, he worked out of it via strikeout and groundout, respectively. In the fifth, a five-pitch walk with one out spelled the end of Harvey's night with 77 pitches.
“He was intimidating,” Merullo said. “He was not intimidated by anything. I think he fed off the crowd. He fed off the spotlight. That’s what all good pitchers do. They thrive in situations like that.”