Harvey, Porcello Share More Than Great Talent

With three weeks remaining until the 2007 draft, high school seniors
like Matt Harvey and Rick Porcello already have reached the height of
anticipation.

As two of the best amateur pitchers in the
country, they’ve tried to suppress their excitement over the fact their
names have been listed side by side atop rankings of high school
prospects for the better part of two calendar years.

But amidst
the buzz, the most exciting news of the week in the Harvey household
was a phone call he received from the University of North Carolina.

“We just found out the other day, me and Rick are going to be roommates,” Harvey says excitedly.

Roommates?
Millionaire baseball players don’t have much need for roommates, and if
they did, it wouldn’t be cause for much excitement. But Harvey is the
calculating type. He doesn’t take anything for granted, and although
he’s less than 48 hours removed from tossing a one-hit shutout in which
his fastball reached 95 mph in front of more than two dozen scouts, the
news that he and Porcello were placed in the same dorm room for their
freshman years at UNC isn’t news he takes in passing.

Two Of A Kind

Matt Harvey didn’t know a thing about Rick Porcello less than a year ago, and Porcello admits the same about Harvey.

But
less than a month after their junior years concluded, the two talented
righthanders from the Northeast formed a rather unique friendship.

Harvey was born and bred in New England and makes his home in quiet, quaint Mystic, Conn., alongside the Long Island Sound.

Porcello’s
from Chester, N.J., a small suburban town with a median household
income in excess of $100,000 located just over an hour west of New York
City.

Fayetteville, Ark., must have seemed like worlds away
for the pair, but it was there at a high school showcase that these two
studious teenagers watched each other pitch for the first time.

“I
honestly didn’t know much about him, but we were two guys from the
Northeast, both a long ways from home and we just seemed to have a lot
of the same interests kind of right from the beginning,” Porcello says.

Harvey and Porcello hung out at the hotel, talking baseball,
girls, the pressures of pitching in front of throngs of scouts, video
games and the other typical conversation topics of 17-year-olds.

“When
we both first met each other we were quiet around each other, almost
hesitant to let ourselves go and be normal,” Harvey says. “But we must
have been together at four or five different tournaments that summer,
and the more we started to hang out, we both kind of loosened up. The
one we really hit it off at was the (East Coast Showcase) in North
Carolina.”

There, Porcello and Harvey spent four days playing on
the same team and stayed in adjacent dorm rooms. They had already been
picked to play in the Aflac Classic and both pitched superbly,
fortifying their reputations as potential first-rounders.

When
it came time to commit to college, Porcello chose North Carolina first,
then gave Harvey a little prodding, encouraging him to do the same.

“I
told him how much fun it would be to watch each other pitch for three
years,” says Porcello of his recruiting campaign. “I told him we could
be the next (Daniel) Bard and (Andrew) Miller.”

Fortunes Or Fraternities

Of
course, in order for that to happen the duo would likely be walking
away from a seven-figure payday in this year’s draft. Porcello was the
ace pitcher for Seton Hall Prep, the preseason No. 1 team in the
country, and has dominated each time out this spring. He tossed a
perfect game in mid-May, and his fastball has been up to 97 mph.

Reviews
of Harvey’s performance have been slightly less glowing, but both
remain first-round talents. While they have made the same college
choice, and even have opted for the same adviser, Scott Boras, all
signs were pointing toward their next stop coming in the minor leagues.

But their personalities aren’t a dead match.

Of the
two, Porcello is more laid back and easygoing, while Harvey could be
best described as straight-laced and a little more serious. Harvey
follows the Boras playbook to the letter when discussing the prospects
of passing up college for the draft, whereas Porcello is refreshingly
candid when asked if signing a professional contract this summer seems
like more of a reality these days.

“It definitely does. I guess
I would be lying if I said it didn’t,” Porcello says, adding in the
obligatory, “but you never know what might happen,” just to cover his
bases.

One constant point that both of them reiterate is their
desire to remain friends and, with luck, be able to watch each other
pitch in the future. While that might not occur at Boshamer Stadium in
Chapel Hill, it’s not inconceivable to think it could come to fruition
in other stadiums one day. Maybe even major league ones.

High School | #2007

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