Baltimore Orioles right-handed pitching prospect Hunter Harvey always knew that when he finished high school, he wanted to play professional baseball as opposed to attending college. His plan was perfectly executed.
Harvey's dad, Bryan, was an All-Star Major League reliever, and his older brother, Kris, was also a professional baseball player. Hunter shares their love of baseball and is following in their footsteps, and he is well on his way to a successful career as a starting pitcher.
After an outstanding stint at Bandys High School in Catawba, N.C., the Orioles selected Harvey in the first round of the 2013 Draft. Harvey is currently No. 2 on the O's Top 20 Prospects list.
The 19-year-old began his career in 2013 pitching for Baltimore's Rookie-level club in the Gulf Coast League. Harvey started five games and worked 13 1/3 innings, throwing to a 1.35 ERA. He finished the year starting another three games at Short-Season Class A Aberdeen.
I got to scout Harvey during the midseason SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Minneapolis, where he pitched one inning for the United States team against the World club. He yielded one hit and a walk, but no runs and struck out two. Harvey made the Futures Game squad after a fine first half at Class A Delmarva.
With his tall, slender 6-foot-3, 175-pound frame, Harvey has always had a good arm. His strength and velocity were attractive to scouts in high school, and when using his four-seam fastball, he can consistently pitch between 91-94 mph, but has been known to reach 97 mph. The 19-year-old also throws a sharp-breaking curveball and a changeup that continues to improve. Harvey's curve is in the 82-mph range, with deception coming from his downhill motion. His changeup offers additional speed differential, as he usually sits at 77 mph with that pitch.
Harvey has the repertoire, the mechanics, the mound presence and the command to become a highly-qualified Major League starting pitcher. He throws strikes and takes charge on the mound. Harvey has the ability to repeat his simple, uncomplicated delivery and not waste energy with extraneous movement. He uses his size to his advantage, as he comes over the top and gets late life on all his pitches. Even at the young age of 19, Harvey has the ability to keep the ball down in the strike zone.
Continued development of Harvey's changeup will help against left-handed hitters and give him another pitch to keep hitters off balance. If he perfects each of his three pitches, they will be enough of an arsenal for him to continue to succeed.
Since he's still so young, Harvey may gain strength in his upper body and core to deliver even more velocity more frequently. It's possible that if he gains more strength and throws even harder, he could lose some of his outstanding command and control, but Harvey is smart enough to keep his pitches within his comfort level. However, the right-hander's deep knowledge of pitching and natural baseball instincts could be one of his most dangerous qualities of all, and he would be a great addition to the Orioles' starting rotation one day.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.