Hunter Harvey Makes MLB Debut
“With the 22nd pick in the 2013 MLB draft, the Baltimore Orioles select Hunter Harvey, right-handed pitcher from Bandy’s High School in Catawba, North Carolina.” Harvey was taken in front of players like Aaron Judge (32nd overall), Corey Knebel (39th overall), and NL MVP candidate Cody Bellinger (124th overall). Harvey was projected to be a solid number two starter with good velocity and command. He was ranked 58th overall by Baseball Prospectus in their prospect rankings. Five Orioles were ranking that year, with Harvey joining Kevin Gausman (10th overall), Dylan Bundy (15th overall), Eduardo Rodriguez (61st overall), and Jonathan Schoop (82nd overall). Bundy and Harvey are the only ones still on the Orioles. Ironically enough, the opposing starter in the game Harvey made his debut was fellow former Orioles prospect, Eduardo Rodriguez.
Harvey was progressing well through the minors until 2015. The Orioles shut him down in May for six weeks due to elbow tightness. However, he ended up missing the entire season due to elbow issues — only pitching in instructional league. The tightness only got worse, and Harvey was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery in 2016. As a result, he would miss the entire season for the second consecutive year. After this, many Orioles fans wrote off Harvey all together.
The Call-up: Take 1
After rehabbing the entire 2017 season, the Orioles called Harvey up towards the beginning of the 2018 season but only lasted two days and never made an appearance. While he never saw any action, this was the first step and a very good sign. It showed that the club had enough confidence in him to at least be available to pitch at a major league level. He finished the season at the Double-A level but went 1-2 with a 5.57 ERA in nine starts.
The Call-up: Take 2
Harvey was called up a second time on August 17, 2019. With the Orioles having a poor season and his injury history, his debut was very overlooked. However, he came in relief that night, pitching one scoreless inning with no hits, one walk, and two strikeouts. While the Orioles lost the game, Harvey made his debut after six years of waiting. The former 22nd overall pick finally made it.
Will Harvey stick? How much is left in his arm after these injuries? On the flip-side, he had almost two years off to rest and rehab his elbow. Will that rest have a positive impact on his career? These questions are yet to be answered, but if Harvey can stay healthy and be even half the pitcher he was expected to be, the Orioles will be able to sigh in relief. It’s impossible to know if Baltimore will ever try him out as a starter like he was drafted to be. However, he could be an effective long reliever. After the success of Zack Britton transitioning from a starter to a closer, Harvey could follow in the footsteps, as he has the stuff to be an effective closer. Only time will tell.
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