Center Stage

Mondays might as well be dubbed “Hunt and Peck Day” for scouts, because it’s the day usually spent by most of them in front of a computer catching up on writing reports from the weekend’s action. But if you’re in the Northeast, you had a great opportunity Monday to catch Matt Harvey, a righthander from Fitch HS in Groton, Conn.

There has been lots of movement among the top high school pitchers in this year’s draft class in the last month. Righthanders Phillppe Aumont and Jarrod Parker, along with Michael Main, have had some helium, with Parker making the most significant push. Harvey was ranked No. 1 among high school players entering the spring but, based mostly on the incredible performances and velocities other prospects, hasn’t held the position.

Monday he took a step in the right direction with a good showing that was well attended by scouts, based partly on the fact there were few conflicts. Harvey, “was better, threw well today,” according to a scout in attendance. Harvey hasn’t shown the 96 and 97 mph fastballs that Aumont, Parker, Main and New Jersey prep righty Rick Porcello have flashed this year, but lit up radar guns to the tune of 95 Monday.

One reason why BA held on to Harvey atop the high school class in our revised February rankings was because of how well he had thrown in extended outings last summer. By the fall, Porcello had probably surpassed Harvey in the eyes of a lot of scouts, based in no small measure to Porcello’s dominant showings in two relief stints in Jupiter, Fla., at a wood bat tournament. Harvey, meanwhile, opted to play for the U.S. junior national team in Cuba last fall, and though he pitched adequately, there seemed to be a large faction of the scouting community that felt Porcello had advantages in fastball velocity, fastball movement and perhaps a slightly more projectable body and delivery.

While I wasn’t in Cuba, I saw lots of both pitchers last year, and watched Harvey pitch at 93, touching 96 mph with feel for two secondary pitches for seven innings in another wood bat tournament at Kell High School in Marietta, Ga., last July. I saw Porcello’s two relief outings in Jupiter, as well, and both Harvey and Porcello in one-inning stints at the Aflac game in August in San Diego, and still liked Harvey better, based largely on the fact that he held his velocity and firmness of his stuff that entire afternoon, and I had not seen Porcello in similar fashion, but only in short, albeit scintillating, relief stints.

Harvey’s outing Monday, in which his command was better than it had been in previous outings, might be a sign he’s still going to make a push to be drafted in the top 10 picks, or he could wind up being taken in the 15-25-pick range. That’s been one of the most compelling aspects of this draft: There are a lot of really good players but very little consensus on which ones are the best. So each time these guys tee it up between now and the draft, there’s going to be a lot on the line.

Score one for Matt Harvey on this Monday.