PORT CHARLOTTE -- It's been a long road for the Orioles' top pitching prospect, Hunter Harvey. So if you wanted to make something special of his first career Grapefruit League start on Tuesday, Orioles manager Buck Showalter doesn't mind."He deserves it. Kid has been through a lot," Showalter said of
PORT CHARLOTTE -- It's been a long road for the Orioles' top pitching prospect, Hunter Harvey. So if you wanted to make something special of his first career Grapefruit League start on Tuesday, Orioles manager Buck Showalter doesn't mind.
"He deserves it. Kid has been through a lot," Showalter said of Harvey, who tossed two innings in Tuesday's 2-1 win at the Rays. "Nobody knows what today is going to bring or down the road is going to bring, but I wanted him to have a role the first time out that he's used to. ... I think it's important because we have high hopes for him."
Harvey has been beset by injuries since the O's selected him as their first-round Draft pick in 2013. Most notably, he had Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss all of the '15 Minor League season. To that end, one of the right-hander's goals this year is to simply pitch a full season. The other? To make an impression.
That started with Tuesday's spring game.
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"That's my goal," Harvey said, when told that Showalter said the righty may make it a tough decision for the Orioles this spring. "To come into camp, it's nice they told me all offseason you're up there now. You're just like anybody else when you're here. That puts a little fire in you."
Harvey allowed one run on three hits with three strikeouts in his debut, showcasing the potential that made him a first rounder. He allowed a pair of singles to start the game, then got Christian Arroyo to ground into a double play to help limit the damage to one run. Using a fastball in the mid-90s and a curveball that hovered around 80 mph, Harvey struck out cleanup man Jake Bauers.
He pitched around a pair of runners in the second, a single and a walk, getting Jake Cronenworth to strikeout to end his afternoon. While he was pleased overall with how he did, Harvey said he will try to command the ball better next time out.
"Really [need to work on] controlling my body. I felt a little crazy out there, I guess it was just the first time being out there in a long time," he said. "Just try to get my body back under me and command the ball a little."
With a lot of the Orioles' starters throwing in "B" games and Minor League games this spring, Harvey could get more opportunities in regular spring matchups. In many ways, it's odd that Harvey -- who has been in big league camp before -- hasn't been in this situation previously. But Showalter has always been impressed with the 23-year-old's maturity.
"It seems like he has [maturity]. He's been around big league locker rooms a lot in his life, with his dad [former big leaguer Bryan Harvey]. When you draft a Major Leaguer's son, some of that stuff isn't as much of an adjustment, but I don't think he's a guy who's going to get too amped up about things," Showalter said.
"He knows we have his best interests at heart and he's right where he needs to be. ... He's not worried about, 'Is this going to hurt anymore?' when he's throwing. I think it's something that even when we drafted him, we knew that at some point this was going to happen, so it's good to finally get it behind us. And he's still a young man."
There are a lot of similarities between Harvey and Orioles righty Dylan Bundy, who also was a top prospect that underwent Tommy John surgery. Bundy emerged as the Orioles' best starter last year, his first full season in the rotation, and he has been someone who has helped Harvey deal with the mental component of injuries.
"That's why they have a certain connection," Showalter said of drawing a parallel between the two guys. "And it's good. I know Dylan will be telling him the right things."
Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.