O's Alvarez, Harvey square off during Futures Game

O's Alvarez, Harvey square off during Futures Game

MINNEAPOLIS -- The learning curve is long for Orioles outfield prospect Dariel Alvarez, but he already understands that a shorter swing makes his path smoother.

Alvarez, 25, who defected from Cuba two years ago and signed last year with the Orioles for $800,000, is batting .309 with a .332 on- base percentage in 91 games at Double-A Bowie.

Alvarez went 0-for-2 for the World squad Sunday afternoon during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, with one of the at-bats a fielder's-choice grounder against the Orioles' other prospect in the game -- righty Hunter Harvey, a hard thrower from Class A Delmarva.

But the numbers show Alvarez's developing hitting philosophy is working more often than not.

"I arrived in the U.S. with some adjustments that needed to be made with my swing," said Alvarez, who hit a combined .342 in 22 get-your-feet-wet games at three levels in 2013, topping out with nine games at Bowie. "I needed to shorten my swing, and I worked all offseason on that. I came into Spring Training and we built on that. That's why I'm having these results."

Alvarez not only is in his first full year in the U.S., but it's the first time he has had an intense, daily schedule. He's making strides on and off the field.

"It's a difficult adjustment," he said. "I'm learning a different culture and a different language in this country. I really give a lot of credit to my coaches and the players on my team. They've really helped me with the adjustment. Things have gone a lot smoother.

"The quality of baseball here is much better. There, we play 90 games. Here we play every single day, but that's why we came here, to make a name for ourselves, establish ourselves and have a good career in the Major Leagues."

Harvey threw a scoreless fourth inning in the Futures Game on Sunday, with two strikeouts, one hit (a double by Twins prospect Kennys Vargas) and one walk. The grounder he forced from Alvarez was the final out of his inning.

The inning took 22 pitches, 11 of which were strikes -- numbers that illustrated what Harvey, 19, is trying to achieve in his regular games, pitch efficiency. Harvey is 6-4 with a 3.01 ERA in 15 starts covering 77 2/3 innings.

"They usually cut me off pretty short -- the most pitches I've thrown all year is 90, and seven innings is the furthest I've gone all year," said Harvey, whose fastball travels 92-95 mph and has touched 97 on occasion. "I want to try to get at least seven each time out. I'm getting into the sixes. They feel I'm going good, but they're telling me they want to keep me strong."

Harvey, ranked the Orioles' No. 3 prospect by MLB.com, arrives with clean mechanics, thanks to a life of learning to pitch correctly.

The Orioles' first-round pick, 22nd overall, out of Bandys High School in Catawba, North Carolina, last year, Harvey is son of former All-Star relief pitcher Bryan Harvey, who earned 177 saves (61st all-time) from 1987-95. Hunter Harvey, who was not even a year old when his father pitched his final Major League game, said he looks nothing like his father on the mound, but his father passed on what was important.

Bryan Harvey worked for several years in the Rockies' organization as a pitching coach. Now he and Hunter's older brother, Kris, who played eight years in the Marlins and Pirates organizations, help run the Harvey Baseball Academy and camps in Catawba. Hunter Harvey has spent his life around solid baseball instruction.

"What I was doing worked for me, so he never wanted to mess with it too much, but he stayed with the basic stuff," Hunter Harvey said. "He taught me to stand tall and have balance -- not try to do too much, just stay smooth.

"I feel like he coached me even more than the guys he had when he was coaching. He was always hard on me, never let me get a big head or anything like that."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.