After catching right-hander Hunter Harvey’s first bullpen session of spring training Wednesday, catcher Caleb Joseph said the Orioles’ top pitching prospect looked crisp in his first official throwing session.
“I think that’s what you want to see,” Joseph said. “Even with some work on the back fields, just doing the drills, he looks crisp. That’s what you’re looking for. I don’t know if in those situations whether you’re looking for the stuff to be plus or if you’re looking to make sure the stuff is not minus. I don’t think you’re looking for 95 and the crazy spin rate on the curveball. I think at this point, you’re just making sure it’s not sloppy and it wasn’t sloppy at all. It seems to me like he was where he needed to be, and it felt right. Even though I don’t have a lot of experience with him, it felt good.
Despite his upside, Harvey isn’t likely to start the season in the big leagues — he hasn’t pitched above Low-A Delmarva and still needs to build minor league innings after Tommy John elbow reconstruction construction in 2016. But the Orioles hope he can become an option for the major league club possibly as soon as midseason.
This is Harvey’s third big league camp with the Orioles, so spring training at the Ed Smith Stadium complex isn’t new to him. This is where Harvey, 23, spent most of last season rehabilitating his elbow before ending the season with eight minor league starts, his most in a season since his first full professional season in 2014, when he made 17 starts with Delmarva.
During Wednesday’s first pitchers and catchers workout, which included 16 bullpen sessions, Harvey was the final pitcher to throw. He did so alone, creating an unintentional buzz. And while the Orioles know there’s more to come, his first bullpen was the beginning of what the team hopes will be a strong and, most importantly, healthy camp.
“The location was good, and even the shape of the pitches, it looked right,” Joseph said. “You know when it doesn’t look right. The stuff and the velocity and the pop is going to tick up. … It’s like taking a turn at 10 mph and taking the exact same turn at 40 mph. It’s going to look the same for a bystander, but it’s going to feel totally different for someone who is in the car. You’re going to see it, you’re going to hear it. So it’s going to have the same shape, but it’s going to have more oomph on it. You’re looking for shape and all that stuff, at least that’s me. That’s all I’m looking for is shape of the pitcher. They’re not wasting bullets right now.”