SYRACUSE — Pitching is in Hunter Harvey’s blood.
His father, Bryan, was a two-time all-star closer who spent nine years in the big leagues with the Angels and Marlins. He compiled a career record of 17-25, 2.49 and collected 177 saves. For all pitchers since integration with as many career innings as Harvey (387), only three have a better career ERA: Mariano Rivera, Billy Wagner and Jonathan Papelbon.
Hunter, a righthander from Bandys High in Catawba, N.C., also has an older brother, Kris, who was a fifth-round pick out of high school as a catcher and a second-round pick out of Clemson as an outfielder by the Marlins in 2005, but has since converted to the mound as well and is currently in Double-A Altoona, in the Pirates’ organization.
At the East Coast Professional Showcase on Aug. 2, Hunter proved to scouts that there will likely soon be a third member of the Harvey family pitching in professional baseball. With his thin, 6-foot-3, 168-pound frame, Harvey has plenty of room to fill out and add strength. His fastball sat in the 89-92 mph range with good downhill plane and he mixed in a 74-77 mph curveball that showed flashes of being a quality pitch and an occasional 79-82 mph changeup.
“I don’t use my changeup as much as I probably should,” Harvey said. “I usually go fastball-curveball about the whole game. When my curveball’s on, I’m a better pitcher. Some nights my curveball isn’t where I need to have it, but my fastball usually helps me out a lot.”
Over his first two innings at the event, Harvey gave up two singles and struck out five batters. He got into a little bit of trouble in the third inning, walking two batters and giving up three hits to allow four runs in the inning. But overall, his outing was impressive.
Bryan, who was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Angels by scout Alex Cosmidis (who, at 83 years old, still scouts North Carolina for the White Sox), said his son is more advanced in high school than he was.
“Oh, he’s way in front of me in high school,” Bryan Harvey said. “I didn’t have this velocity. I didn’t get that kind of velocity until I was a freshman in college. But he’s been pretty fortunate because I played and he’s got an older brother who’s 11 years older, so it’s pushed him a little harder and he got there a little quicker than we did.”
Perhaps because of his father’s background, Harvey is a bit of a throwback. He’s one of the rare players in today’s amateur baseball scene who doesn’t play on a summer travel team. He plays for his high school and then stays around and plays on a team with his friends in the summer.
“That’s all my doing,” Bryan Harvey said. “I played Legion ball and Kristopher played Legion ball. Not that that’s the right way, it’s nothing against travel ball. But it’s close to home, playing with his buddies and he enjoys it.
“Those travel teams play a lot and for the hitters, it’s not a bad thing. But somebody’s got to pitch up all those innings and you’re talking about playing a couple games on Saturday and a couple games on Sunday. That can be a little bit of a grind. A lot of people choose that way and that’s okay, but we just didn’t.”
The next stop for Hunter Harvey will be at Wrigley Field for the Under Armour All-America Game on Aug. 18.
Now that Hunter is carrying on the family tradition of pitching, next on the list will be to carry on the tradition of having a handlebar mustache. Bryan had one throughout his career (and still does today), and Kris grew one when he started pitching. Hunter will probably have to wait a few more years, though.
“He’s not growing one anytime soon,” Bryan Harvey said. “He’s got a baby face. I don’t know, maybe eventually he’ll get there, but it took me a while to get mine, too.”