Pitching prospect Hunter Harvey, whose stellar 2014 season was shortened by an elbow problem that ultimately required Tommy John reconstruction, had a “big day in his baseball ladder-climbing” Wednesday with his first competitive game in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
“Hunter Harvey had a good day today,” Showalter said. “Twenty-seven pitches, one inning, felt great. Velocity was really good.”
Harvey had a strikeout and allowed two hits in the scoreless inning, and Showalter said the pitcher eventually will ascend to Low-A Delmarva by the season’s end, but on a unique schedule.
“He’s going to pitch once a week with a workday in between and a couple of long tosses,” Showalter said. “The whole idea is him having a normal offseason. We think it’s in his best interest, he’s not going to go to the [Arizona] Fall League. This guy has been throwing since basically November. I think the most important thing for everybody, including Hunter, is to have his first normal offseason in a long time.”
Harvey had Tommy John surgery last summer after working his way back from several injuries over the past few years. He had a 2.79 ERA in 125 2/3 innings before his 2014 shutdown. Then, Harvey suffered a leg fracture early in 2015 before the arm problems returned. With those healed in 2016, a sports hernia kept him out for the first half of the season before he returned for Rookie-level outings last year. He pitched 12 2/3 innings over five appearances before his elbow injury cropped up and he ultimately had Tommy John surgery.
As a 2013 draft pick, Harvey, the Orioles’ first-round pick that year, has to be protected in the Rule 5 draft this fall. Showalter expects his path forward will include big league camp next year, where team officials hope to see the pitcher many hoped would already be a major league starter by now.
“I’m hoping that everything goes as planned, he has a normal offseason, he comes into camp … and he has a normal spring training for us and we get him ready to pitch, probably in Double-A, and see where it takes us,” Showalter said. “I’ll leave this up to [director of player development] Brian Graham and them. They’re the experts in player development. I’m hoping. That’s a long way off. He’s not going to be a candidate to make our club next year — but I know he has the potential to make a lot of people ask that question. Now that I’ve said it, I’m hoping at some point in spring, it’s [someone asking], ‘You said back in that press box in July. Now do you still feel the same?’ I’m hoping that happens because that means he’s good and on his way.”
Around the horn
Showalter said Zach Britton will get the club’s next save opportunity, as early as Wednesday night. … Right-hander Mike Wright (shoulder) struck out four and allowed one hit in 1 2/3 innings on his second rehabilitation appearance in the GCL. The game was suspended by rain. … Infielder Ryan Flaherty (shoulder) threw Tuesday and is on pace for rehab games next week, Showalter said. … Right-hander Edwin Jackson, who made three appearances with the Orioles earlier this season, pitched seven innings and allowed two runs Tuesday night in his Washington Nationals debut.