Harvey Finding His Way
Pennsylvania prep developing into baseball prospect
A 6-foot-3, 205-pound catcher with arm strength and projectable raw power, Germantown Academy junior Chris Harvey is widely considered among the top prospects for 2012 and has verbally committed to Vanderbilt.
But when he was younger, there was a point when his parents wondered if he even had a future in athletics.
Harvey comes from a family of athletes. His father, Frank, played D-III football. His sister, Megan, recently completed a four-year swimming career at Georgetown, and his brother Michael currently wrestles for the North Carolina. But that hardly assured his own athletic future.
In tee ball, Harvey was always the most physically imposing player on the team. But whenever the ball was hit to him, he seemed disinterested in chasing after it.
"I would ask him why he didn't try to go after the ball more and he would say 'but mom, that was someone else's ball'," his mother, Joan, said. "I remember looking over at my husband and we both wondered whether he was going to be very athletic."
But Harvey continued to fill out physically and when he was 11 his father said he committed to baseball. Football, a sport he played until eighth grade, became an after-thought. His father, who coached him throughout little league, turned him over to more experienced baseball coaches, and he began to blossom.
Now, having been the starting catcher since his first game as a freshman and a .350 hitter for the state champion Patriots, it's safe to say Harvey has put his parents' concerns to rest.
"Sure I would like to see him do other things, but that's not up to me," Frank Harvey said. "Once he flipped that switch, he was committed to baseball. He was always playing against older competition and when he played age-appropriate events, he dominated. The minute I saw that I got him to the right people because I knew he was better off with them and they have helped his game tremendously."
It also helped that the minute Harvey entered high school he became exposed to the type of work ethic and commitment he would need to take his game to the next level. The Northeast isn't littered with future baseball stars, but in recent years Germantown Academy has done its best to dispel that notion.
The Patriots' had two players drafted in 2010—first team all-American infielder Sean Coyle (Red Sox, third round) and righthander Keenan Kish (Yankees, 34th round), who is headed to Florida. Before Coyle and Kish, the Patriots' produced players like Sean's older brother and North Carolina second baseman Tommy Coyle, Virginia outfielder John Barr, and William and Mary's Tyler Stampone, an all-conference third baseman.
Barr and Stampone graduated before Harvey was in high school but Harvey said playing alongside the Coyles and watching them have success gave him motivation to work just as hard.
"Those guys, they work their asses off," said Harvey, whose favorite baseball player is Phillies' catcher Carlos Ruiz because of his work ethic and quiet demeanor. "It helped show me that no matter where you are, if you work hard you are going to be able to play wherever you want to play. My goal is to play at the next level and getting to play with that caliber of player is a good way to achieve my goals."
It's not hard to see why Harvey is an intriguing prospect for scouts to keep an eye on. There are definitely things Harvey needs to improve upon in order to continue his success at the next level. His swing is still long and his fundamentals behind the plate need to be refined. But former Germantown Academy coach John Duffy said, "you can't teach the size, you can't teach the arm strength, and you can't teach the presence he has behind the plate."
Although he didn't hit any home runs for the Patriots, he has the size and the strength that will likely translate into power down the road and Duffy said he made significant strides letting the ball get deeper before hitting it to the opposite-field.
"I have talked to plenty of college coaches and area scouts who are really interested in him," Duffy said. "He has got all the tools and he's aware of all of those things. Most importantly I think he is a great kid and a real student of the game. He listens really well and I have really enjoyed coaching him."
Despite the interest he will likely receive from professional scouts, Harvey sounds as if he is all but committed to going to college. With two siblings already in college, his parents both said they have stressed academics with all of their kids including Chris.
"My entire life it has always been academics first and everything else next," Harvey said. "The draft is nice but I am not relying on it because college is more important. The draft isn't what's on my mind, right now the emphasis is on my education and my family values the college route so that's probably where I would go."