2019 Level: AA/AAA/MLB
Pitches (current/future value)
Most Likely Future Role: Late inning reliever
Ceiling: 1st division closer
What we know: Harvey has taken a long and injury-filled road from the 22nd overall pick out of high school in 2013 to making his MLB debut in 2019. Harvey was a consensus top 100 prospect before succumbing to a torn UCL and requiring Tommy John Surgery. He had a plus fastball and a plus curveball along with a projectable frame. After a long recovery, he returned with a stronger, more mature frame and even more velocity. His curveball still flashed plus, but he struggled to throw it consistently. After a freak shoulder dislocation caused him to miss time in 2018, he finally had a full, healthy season in 2019. He began throwing the splitter he learned from his MLB veteran dad. The Orioles used him as a starter but he ran into issues the second time through line-ups when hitters started sitting on his straight 94-97mph fastball. It’s a low spin fastball that doesn’t have much horizontal action and plays a little below it’s velocity. They were able to eliminate the other pitches because he struggled to consistently land his curveball and split near the zone. He thrived after getting moved to a relief role where his fastball ticked up to 97-99mph, touching 100. It hid his command issues and let him just reach back and challenge hitters.
What we don’t know: Harvey pitched just 63 innings from 2015-2018 and was sore down the stretch of his 82 IP campaign in 2019. Will he be able to hold up or will he break down again? Will his command and feel for his secondaries get back to where they were pre-TJS? He lost a lot of developmental time and is behind most 24 year old pitchers in terms of reps.
What we think: While I’m tantalized by the thought of Harvey as a starting pitcher, with the hopes that his command and feel for his offspeed stuff will improve with more healthy reps, we think he’s going to be a late inning reliever. The injury history, his professed enjoyment of the role, and his presence on the mound all point to a better fit in the pen. He is ready to handle medium leverage work now, thanks to a fastball averaging 98.4mph in his MLB debut. He could grow into a strong closer if one or both of the splitter/curveball become more consistent.
Another Take: While it was worth a shot to see if Harvey could stick as a starter, it was good to see the Orioles move the hard throwing right-hander to the bullpen where his stuff plays up. He has the mentality and frame that plays better in relief, and once the transition happened he went from averaging 93-96 on his fastball to sitting 97-99 in relief. Had just one bad appearence in AAA but held AAA batters to a .159/.196/.273/.468 over his last nine games before his promotion to Baltimore in mid-August. In relief he sits 98-99MPH, with a hard curve (83.3 MPH) and split change (89.7 MPH) that he used to dominate major league hitters (136/.269/.409/.678) over his seven games before getting shut down for the year in mid-September. Despite being pretty true (below average avg horizontal movement), Harvey gets most of his swings and misses on his fastball suggesting he has some deception that actually makes the pitch play up even more. The only risk at this point is his health, but last year was a step forward in that regard. If healthy, Harvey will be a late inning high leverage reliever who has all the makings of a future closer. (Tony Pente)