By Nate Puciato
Highly-touted-yet-injury-plagued pitcher Hunter Harvey, a former first-round pick, has undergone a transformation in the Orioles’ minor-league system after recently being introduced to a bullpen role. So far, he’s experienced nothing but success.
The Catawba, N.C., native was seen by the organization since as an integral piece of its future after being taken back in 2013 out of Bandys High School with the 22nd overall pick.
Since entering the Orioles’ system, Harvey has seen time with the Gulf Coast League Orioles, Short Season-A Aberdeen, Low-A Delmarva and most recently Double-A Bowie. Harvey had been a starter his entire life before being moved to relief for the Baysox.
This move to the bullpen has also given Harvey an opportunity to follow in his father’s footsteps. Bryan Harvey pitched for the California Angels from 1987-1992 and Florida Marlins from 1993-1995, earning All-Star nods in 1991 and 1993. He was fifth in Cy Young voting in 1991.
He also closed out the first win in Marlins history.
“I was actually pretty excited when I found out,” Hunter Harvey said on Glenn Clark Radio June 26. “My dad was a closer for a long time, and it was kind of cool to find out that was going to be my role for a little while, and I’ve always wanted to follow his footsteps.”
“I love starting, it’s always been what I’ve done, but being able to pitch out of the bullpen, it’s been cool,” he added.
It certainly has been pretty cool for the 24-year-old hurler, as he has not allowed a run during his first three relief appearances and even notched his first save — all while throwing at velocities he wasn’t touching as a starter.
“There was something that kicked in,” Harvey said, “I haven’t had that kind of adrenaline in I don’t know how long. I can’t even explain it, the gear that it put me in; it was just something different.”
“When you’re starting, you have to roll the lineup a couple more times,” added Harvey, who said that as a reliever, “you can use everything; you don’t have to worry about letting them see everything too early [and] for me, it’s just been incredible.”
Harvey’s recent success has not come without struggles prior. He dealt with injuries from 2013-2018, and he had struggled as a starter with Bowie in 2018 and 2019. Despite the obstacles Harvey has faced during his pro career, he has not wavered in the face of tough times.
“I actually felt really good before,” Harvey said. “I think the biggest thing for me was just being consistent. Most of my outings, even my bad ones I didn’t really start struggling until sometime in the fourth or fifth inning.”
“For me mentally, I haven’t really changed. Something has put me into a whole other gear, and I’m just digging a little bit deeper, and getting a little bit more,” Harvey added.
Along with getting more from within him, Harvey, along with other pitchers throughout the Orioles’ farm system, has seen the new regime’s analytical takeover up close. They have been showered with a wealth of information to help improve different aspects of their game.
“It’s a lot different with all the new info and technology,” Harvey said. “It’s really still a learning process for me, for a lot of guys really. It’s a lot of new stuff they’re introducing to us. … There’s been a few things that are starting to help out a little bit.”
“We just have so much info to look at, our delivery, how are pitches are working, our spins and everything,” Harvey continued. “… It helps you understand a little bit better and be more consistent.”
At the end of the day, it also doesn’t hurt to have his father only a phone call away.
“It makes it a little bit easier having him to talk to about it,” Harvey said. “He did it for so long, [but] I wouldn’t be mad or upset going back to starting, I’ve done it my whole life, it’s something I’m comfortable with. But either way, I think I’ll be happy, and I’ve really enjoyed the bullpen these past couple weeks.”
Update: Harvey was promoted to Triple-A Norfolk June 29. He threw two scoreless innings in his Tides debut June 30.
To hear more from Harvey, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Bill Vaughan/Bowie Baysox