The nation’s No. 1 recruit was making his first public appearance for North Carolina just 20 minutes from our office last night, so I had to take a look for myself. On a cold night at the USA Baseball complex in Cary (the temporary home of UNC while Boshamer Stadium is renovated), freshman righthander Matt Harvey looked good despite taking a loss in the Tar Heels’ Fall World Series. Harvey scattered nine hits and two walks while striking out two over 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one run when left fielder Mike Cavasinni lost a pop-fly in the gray sky.
Harvey was hit hard early on, when he ran his fastball up to the 92-93 mph range, but the fierce competitor wriggled out of tough spots unscathed in the first two innings. The rest of the way, most of the hits Harvey surrendered were well-placed bloops–the opposing Carolina Blue Sox had a hard time squaring up Harvey’s heavy, boring fastball, though he worked mostly in the 89-90 range during his final few innings. Harvey relied almost exclusively upon his fastball and hard, sharp curveball, which was inconsistent but looked at times like the well-above-average offering he flashed at Fitch High in Connecticut. His tall, physical, projectable frame hints at plenty of velocity to come, and he displayed some terrific athleticism on his final play of the evening, leaping for a bunt that sailed over his head and then recovering by fielding the ball behind the pitcher’s mound and flipping it with his glove to second base to get the force out.
Fellow freshman righthander Patrick Johnson might have upstaged Harvey later, fanning four over the final three innings. The Tar Heels have no shortage of quality arms, and UNC fans are going to enjoy watching Harvey, Johnson and the rest of UNC’s dynamite freshman class over the next three or four years.
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