After answering media questions Tuesday with the aplomb and "ecstatic to be here" tone of seasoned pros, the Orioles' top two 2013 draft picks, North Carolina high school pitcher Hunter Harvey and Georgia prep outfielder Josh Hart, walked toward the hallway that leads to the Camden Yards field.
And, suddenly, a guy in a Popeye's Chicken T-shirt and a pair of shorts came bursting into the corridor.
"Where's the kid that wants to meet me?" the Orioles' Adam Jones said as he walked in and found Hart, the 37th overall pick. "You gonna take my job?"
Hart smiled, shook Jones' hand and had his picture taken with the Orioles' current center fielder. Moments earlier, Hart had broken down his own game and talked about wanting to meet Jones.
"Part of my tools are being a table-setter, using what I have, keeping up positive energy in the clubhouse and the dugout," said Hart, who batted .449 with 34 steals as a high school senior and eschewed a scholarship to Georgia Tech for a $1.45 million signing bonus. "And five-tool wise, use my speed, my strength and my instincts out in the outfield and just cover as much as possible in the outfield. And with AJ, I'm dying to meet him. He's a very good ballplayer and a very good icon to look up to."
Hart can cross that one off his bucket list, and now he and Harvey — who received an ovation from the crowd Tuesday night when they were introduced on the field before the bottom of the fifth inning — will begin working toward their goal: making the big leagues. Both will head to Sarasota, Fla., to join the club's Gulf Coast League squad at the bottom rung of major league organizations.
Harvey, the 22nd overall pick, signed for $1,947,600, instead of going to college — he was so sure he wanted to play pro ball that he didn't commit anywhere. The son of former All Star closer Bryan Harvey and the brother of a former Florida Marlins second round pick, Kris Harvey, the 18-year-old right-hander definitely feels he made the right decision.
"It's been exciting. A lot going on, but definitely one of the most exciting days of my life," said Harvey, who possesses a mid-90s fastball and was 15-0 in his final two years in high school. "My brother told me the other day, 'Three years from now you could be a junior in college or you could be possibly in the big leagues.' So I just want to start my professional career instead of going to school."
Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich, who has signed nine of his top 10 picks and 18 of the first 21 this month, said he believes Harvey can be a top-of-the-rotation starter and Hart could one day be the club's leadoff hitter.
"We're just thrilled to death that these two guys got down to where we were picking," he said.
As to when they'll be wearing Orioles' uniforms for real — and not just the No. 13 jerseys to commemorate the picks in the 2013 draft — Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette isn't putting a timetable on it. He chuckled at the question, but the club does have a recent history of moving its top picks — Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado, for instance — to the big leagues quickly.
"That all depends on how well they play and how they get acclimated to pro ball," Duquette said. "They have all the skills and natural abilities to be major league players and make a contribution to the team."
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