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Harvey Happy to Fall to Cubs

June 3, 2003
By Jeff Vorva

CHICAGO - After picking a college righthander in the first round of the draft the last two years and three of the last four, the Cubs changed gears Tuesday.

They picked Dunedin (Fla.) High School outfielder Ryan Harvey sixth overall even though he missed a chunk of the prep season recovering from a right knee injury.

Harvey missed 17 games but when he returned to the Dunedin lineup, he hit .463-4-14 with four steals in 41 at-bats.

This pick came after the Cubs selected Rutgers hurler Bobby Brownlie in 2002, Southern California star Mark Prior in 2001 and Wichita State fireballer Ben Christiansen in 1999.

"We're excited to get a five-tool player with raw power," Cubs scouting director John Stockstill said. "He has size. He has strength. We picked him over the college players because we just felt he has a very high ceiling. We felt he was above the college players in this draft. He's a guy we think will be a great player."

The Cubs hadn't expected to see Harvey on the board when their pick came up. Once a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick, Harvey received plenty of attention for the Royals and looked like he'd go to Kansas City at No. 5 before that club changed gears and opted for Pennsylvania prep outfielder Chris Lubanski.

The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Harvey thought his career was over when he injured his right ACL colliding with a center fielder in a showcase event at the University of South Florida in November.

"The trainer came out and told me that I bruised it and stood me up and I walked off the field," Harvey said. "At first I figured it wasn't serious until they got me to the emergency room and the doctors said I tore my ACL. That got me to thinking I might not play baseball ever again.

"But my trainers and doctors said they can get me back in four months. I focused on rehabbing and getting back to playing again. The knee is real good right now. My fastest time in the 60 was 6.7 (seconds) when I was 15 pounds lighter and now I'm running at 6.9."

The injury certainly didn't hurt his power. In workout for the Devil Rays at Tropicana Field last week, he belted some balls in the seats including a massive homer over the center field wall.

Harvey was pretty proud of that blast.

"I don't think 'crushed' is the word," he said. "I think I demolished it. That's the longest ball I ever hit. It was a confidence booster."

The prep star nearly re-injured himself when heard the Cubs picked him.

"I was jumping up and down," he said. "I practically hit my head on the roof. I was hugging everybody. It was amazing."

Stockstill thinks Harvey could be the Cubs starting right fielder several years down the line. But Harvey modestly declined talking about the possibility of replacing legend Sammy Sosa.

"I don't know," he said. "Right now I couldn't see myself replacing him. I wouldn't mind playing next to him. If that ever comes up, it would be awesome."

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