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Harvey ready to step from diploma to Draft

Hunter Harvey is ready for two of the biggest events of his life.

First, the 18-year-old will graduate from Bandys High School on Friday evening at the Catawba Valley Community College's Tarlton Complex arena in Hickory, N.C. Less than two weeks later, he'll take the first step toward his future career -- the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, set for June 6-8 in New York.

"Oh yeah, I can't wait for either one," Harvey said. "I'm ready. I've been working toward this my whole life."

Harvey, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound right-hander, has been a fast climber on prospect charts the past two years and is being projected as a likely first-round pick in this year's Draft. That would be the first big step in what has been a 10-year project for Harvey, the son of former Major League pitcher Bryan Harvey.

"I guess we started working toward this when he was little," the senior Harvey said. "That's all he's ever wanted to do; heck, it's all he's ever been around. Baseball's always been a part of our family."

Bryan Harvey wasn't just any ordinary Major Leaguer -- for a time in the early 1990s, he was one of the game's top closers.

In nine seasons with the California Angels and Florida Marlins, Bryan Harvey recorded 177 saves -- including a league-best 46 in 1991, when he was named the American League's best reliever -- and twice played in the All-Star Game (1991 and 1993).

Although young Harvey never got to see his father pitch in the Majors -- he wasn't born until December 1994, the winter before his father retired -- the influence was still a powerful one for him and older brother Kris, a second-round Draft pick by the Marlins in 2005 and now a pitcher in the Pirates organization.

Although Bryan -- who spent several years as a Minor League pitching coach at Class A Asheville and Double-A Tulsa before establishing his own baseball academy last year -- taught his son the mechanics of pitching, Hunter said his father also taught him things even more important to a Major Leaguer.

"He told me what he had to do to succeed -- all the working out and all that," Hunter said. "[But] he said one thing I had to get over was failure. The guys that can handle failure will be the ones who succeed. That's definitely been the hardest part for me."

In fact, Hunter got a taste of that last June while playing for the regional team in the 2012 North Carolina State Games against some of the state's best high school players.

"In my first game, I had one of the worst games I've ever had," Hunter said. "I gave up two home runs, and nothing was working for me. But my dad came up to me after the game and said, 'I'm glad that happened, just so you have a taste of what a bad night's going to feel like. You've got to get over it and do what you need to do to get better.'"

Other than that, Hunter hasn't had much in the way of failure the last two years.

As a junior, in 2012, he went 7-0 with a 1.81 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 54 innings for Bandys High. This past season he went 8-0 with a 0.38 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings.

Although the stats could be written off to the level of competition, what Hunter did during two national showcase events in August 2012 couldn't -- and it put him on the scouts' radars. Hunter turned heads with a fastball that was consistently in the mid-90s and topped out at 97 -- the fastest he'd ever thrown the ball -- along with a consistent curveball during the East Coast Professional Showcase, which annually draws more than 300 scouts to Syracuse, N.Y.

"Once we started seeing those numbers [on the fastball], I had an idea that he could possibly get drafted," Bryan said. "We went through this before with Kris, and the magic number all the scouts want to see is 94, 95 [mph]."

Then, two weeks later, Hunter got a starting nod and went three innings in the Under Armour All-America Game, played at Wrigley Field. So when Bandys' season began in March, so did the calls to head coach Frank Porter -- primarily from scouts wanting to know when Hunter would be pitching. It wasn't unusual for a dozen or more Major League scouts to be in the stands during Hunter's appearances, radar guns and clipboards in hand.

"He likes to goof off and have fun like other kids, but when the guns were on him and eyes were on him analyzing every move, he'd bear down," Porter said. "It really made him focus more before the game rather than wait until the game started."

Hunter also eschewed playing on a travel team during the summer, playing a limited American Legion schedule while taking part in an extensive offseason workout program at Diamond Dreams Design, his father's facility in southeastern Catawba County, N.C.

The Harveys also waved off the major college programs that came calling after hearing the numbers Hunter was putting up, and for good reason -- had he entered a four-year college, he would have had to wait another three years before being eligible for the Draft.

"I don't want to play games with anybody, so we've told everybody all along that we want to sign [with a Major League team]," Bryan said. "[Hunter] wants to go play baseball. That puts nothing in the way -- they know his signability is there.

"I knew we would never commit to a four-year school, but there's a couple of junior colleges that we really like. If things don't work out in a couple of weeks, I don't think it'll be a problem getting him into one of them."

Going on the first day of the Draft shouldn't be a problem for Hunter -- he's projected to be a certain first-round pick by experts, including's Jonathan Mayo, who had him going 25th to the Giants in his first mockup. But where he winds up in the Draft order and to which team doesn't matter to Hunter.

"I'll play for anybody -- the name of the team ain't going to change how I play," he said. "Whoever gets me, gets me, and I'll just go and do my thing -- trying to get to the big leagues."