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.