xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Orioles pitching prospect Hunter Harvey could resume throwing next week

Orioles pitching prospect Hunter Harvey – who had major reconstructive elbow surgery in July – could resume throwing early next week, his father, former major leaguer Bryan Harvey, said.

Harvey still faces several obstacles in his recovery from ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery, more commonly known as Tommy John surgery. Recovery from the procedure can take anywhere from 12 to 16 months for pitchers and Harvey's rehabilitation from the July 26 surgery appears to be on schedule.

Advertisement

Harvey is expected to receive clearance Thursday to begin throwing and could begin a light toss-and-catch session from 45 feet Monday -- which will mark the five-month mark since his surgery -- at his home in North Carolina. He would continue that for the next month. He would then progress to long toss in two months and then gradually work his way to throwing off a mound.

It's far too early to estimate when Harvey, the Orioles' 2013 first-round draft pick out of Bandys High School in Catawba, N.C., could pitch in games again. But if all goes well, there is optimism that Harvey could pitch in the final weeks of the 2017 minor league regular season. Even then, Harvey might not reach full strength until 2018.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Harvey isn't expected to attend next month's minicamp in Sarasota, Fla., where the club assembles some of the organization's young pitchers for bullpen sessions in advance of spring training. Instead, the club wants to allow Harvey to continue his rehab on his own this offseason before reporting to Sarasota in February to continue his recovery.

Harvey is the second Orioles top pitching prospect to recently have Tommy John surgery. Right-hander Dylan Bundy, the club's 2011 first-round pick, had the procedure in June 2013 and returned to the mound 12 months later. He missed most of 2015 with a shoulder injury before blossoming on the major league staff this past season, first as a reliever and then a starter after the All-Star break. In 2016, Bundy went 10-6 with a 4.02 ERA in 109 2/3 innings, his most work since becoming a pro in 2012.

It took a while for Bundy to reach that form, but the Orioles would love to see a similar rebound from Harvey, who has similarly been plagued by injuries since making his pro debut in 2013. The Orioles have always seen Harvey as a product who could advance through their minor league system quickly, but his biggest obstacle has been remaining healthy.

Harvey was shut down for the final month of his first full professional season in 2014 with elbow soreness. He was impressive in his first big league camp in 2015, but missed the entire season with a fractured leg suffered when he took a comebacker in a minor league spring training game. He then was plagued with more elbow soreness at the end of the season.

Advertisement

Last season, Harvey began the year in extended spring training and then missed two months with sports hernia surgery in May. He returned to pitch in five minor league games before leaving his final start with Short-A Aberdeen on July 16 with right flexor mass tightness.

Harvey was evaluated by renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews and less than a week later had Tommy John surgery performed by Dr. Donald D'Alessandro in Charlotte.

The success rate of return from the procedure is much better now than when the elder Harvey had it two decades ago – Bryan Harvey never returned to the majors after having the surgery – and many pitchers now return stronger than before. Bryan Harvey said the replacement ligament his son received is stronger than the one he was born with -- seven millimeters long, which is three millimeters longer than his previous one.

Injuries to top Orioles pitching prospects haven't been limited to Harvey and Bundy. Frederick native Branden Kline, the club's second-round pick in 2012, missed all of last season after having Tommy John surgery in 2015. Left-hander Chris Lee made just eight appearances, and none after May 23 last season for Double-A Bowie because of a left shoulder strain. Right-hander Parker Bridwell was out of the Bowie rotation for nearly eight weeks with a broken rib, but returned as a reliever and had a brief major league stint in August.

eencina@baltsun.com
twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement