The Baltimore Orioles 2013 first round draft pick, pitcher Hunter Harvey, was introduced to the media Monday as a member of the Aberdeen IronBirds.
Harvey, who is scheduled to pitch for Aberdeen at Ripken Stadium Tuesday night, was accompanied by IronBirds manager Matt Merullo on the club level of the stadium.
"Were thrilled to have Hunter here joining our ball club and we're in a race here for the playoffs," Merullo said. "We're one game ahead and we were really happy to get the news last week from our farm director Brian Graham that Hunter would be joining us and making a few starts for us here at the end of the year."
Harvey, the 22nd overall pick in this year's Major League Baseball draft, comes to Aberdeen from the Gulf Coast League Orioles, where he had yet to post a win or loss. Harvey started five games for the rookie league team, working 13.1 innings. In those innings he allowed 10 hits and two earned runs, The right-hander walked two and struck out 18 and had an ERA of 1.35.
"I'm just glad to be up here in Aberdeen, finally get to play some night games," Harvey said. "So it's going to be really nice not being in so much heat, play in front of some fans, help this team out and hopefully win a championship, so I'm really excited."
Harvey, who is 6-3 and weighs 175 pounds, comes from a GCL team that was a game back in its playoff race to an IronBirds team that sits atop the New York-Penn League's McNamara Division entering Monday's game. Aberdeen's 29-26 record was a game better than Brooklyn's 29-28 mark.
"It's awesome, really want to help them out, hopefully win a championship, that would be nice," Harvey said in reference to joining the first place 'Birds. "We were only a game back down there, so coming up here and being in the lead, it's nice."
As for the promotion to Aberdeen, Harvey said, "It was really exciting when they called me in the office down there in the GCL and told me that, it really brightened my days, it was awesome. This is the first time I've been up here in this area, I've never really been in Maryland. I heard about how good they were doing this year and I was excited to get up here and continue to help them play good."
Harvey says he's a three-pitch pitcher: fastball, curveball and change-up, with emphasis on the fastball.
"My change-up's getting a little better and my curveball command is getting better too," he said. "So fastball is getting better too, everything's just getting better with all the help." Harvey says the fastball range has been 91 to 94 mph.
Fans need to remember, Harvey is an 18-year old young man, recently graduated from Bandys High School in Catawba, N.C.. When asked about the differences in playing pro ball so far, Harvey said, "The talent you pitch against really. In high school it wasn't that hard to get people out and just throw it by them. In this league you have to learn how to pitch. You have to use all of your pitches, just can't overpower people with your fastball anymore."
Harvey's start tomorrow night will certainly be watched closely by many in the system, including manager Merullo. "I'm expecting a phone call soon and I wouldn't be surprised if some people are here tomorrow night as well, but everything will stay in line as it has been," Merullo said. "I don't really expect any major changes from what he's been doing. Typically there's about a 20 pitch limit that's added to a player's prior start, so we may increase that pitch limit, may not."
Harvey last pitched Aug. 14 for GCL. His limit was 60 pitches. "I haven't been given any guidelines so far as to how may innings or what his pitch count is. I know that he pitched last week, threw three and a third innings, threw 60 pitches, but whatever he's able to give us is certainly going to be a help, we're really looking forward to having him out there on the mound tomorrow night."
For Aberdeen, Harvey will wear number 23, a number with no significance. "A random number," Harvey said. "I thought it was Michael Jordan coming from North Carolina," Merullo joked.
At GCL, Harvey wore 48. His father, Bryan Harvey, wore number 34 and pitched for nine years in the major leagues exclusively as a reliever, with his best season being 1991, when he led the American League with 46 saves pitching for the Angels. He notched 45 saves in 1993 for the expansion Florida Marlins. He finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 1988.
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"Tomorrow is a big night for Hunter, a big night for the IronBirds, but in the long run, really it is a small step in what's hopefully a long, successful career in Baltimore," Merullo said.