Hunter Harvey: Scouting An Injured Orioles Pitcher With A Broken Wing
When Hunter Harvey‘s velocity fell off a cliff in the fourth inning of his final 2014 start in Rome, it was nothing out of the ordinary. It’s not the first time a top prospect lost steam and fizzled in Single-A. Jose Campos did it with the Yankees last season. It happened to Tyler Matzek multiple times in 2010-2011. In general, the pitchers who maintain velocity throughout a start are the ones to really watch. This is why Harvey’s precipitous drop was surprising given his standing as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.
Standing 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, the 2013 first round pick has a slight frame. Quite often, players are developed through the shoulders and hips leaving added size a distinct possibility. And while Hunter Harvey is athletic, the frame does leave questions about how much weight can be added in the future. Additional size would take stress off of his arm — important for a pitcher who’s been shut down for a minor elbow injury.
If he maintains a lean frame, Harvey’s mechanics will have to work in unison for the top-100 prospect to present with an effortless delivery. Expecting a pitcher with few mechanical flaws, seeing Hunter Harvey stab his front foot to the third base side of before throwing back across body was concerning. The right-hander’s natural arm whip fought his lower half throughout the start. Early on, a 92-95 mph fastball was impressive, but Harvey sat 91-92 by the fourth inning and 90 by the fifth. The pitch lacked movement, allowing Harvey to command it at an elite level compared to same-aged pitching prospects. This command came at the expense of finding too many barrels though.
Hunter Harvey’s best breaking pitch is a curveball with 12/6 break. With no hump, it resembles a change-up or BP fastball out of the hand before falling off the table. He threw two variations of the pitch — one at 79 mph with tight, sharp break and another at 76 mph with deeper drop. Harvey was willing to throw the curveball frequently including a few behind in the count. His trust in the pitch was evident and it’s a future weapon at the Major League level.
With an 83-85 mph change-up, Harvey boasts a third pitch with MLB average potential. He didn’t throw it often, but separation from the fastball was 8-10 mph. Hunter Harvey’s arm speed was identical to the fastball and he finished the pitch well. At the Single-A level, most pitchers let up on the change-up and tip the pitch. Unfortunately, little drop or run to either side of the plate was evident.
As with most prospects, Harvey underwhelmed in person compared to the prospect hype. An MRI later revealed a strained flexor mass and the pitcher was promptly shut down for the season. Does this mean readers should dismiss the information gleaned from this start and hop aboard the off-season hype train? Not so fast! While the drop in velocity is easily explained by injury, a flat fastball and needed mechanical tweaks are not. While Hunter Harvey is somewhat refined, the pristine profile is overblown. Had the 92-95 held throughout the start, he’d still project with a strong third starter profile.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Number 2/3 Starter On First Division Team Fastball 45 60 Curveball 55 70 Changeup 35 50 Control 50 65 Command 40 55
Owning Hunter Harvey
In 2014, Harvey has been ranked among the best pitching prospects in baseball. Having scouted Dylan Bundy, Taijuan Walker, Archie Bradley and others at the minor league level, it’s a stretch to consider him elite. In fact, the top-100 prospects value is closely tied to having a high floor given his fastball command and excellent curveball. In dynasty fantasy baseball leagues, Hunter Harvey is a strong own in formats where five or more prospects are owned. Having been churned through the hype machine already, his minor elbow injury brings his value back to a reasonable level. Harvey is a strong hold, but aggressively pursuing him as a buy low candidate is misguided.
4 Aug 2014 / Mike Newman /
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