Name: Matt Harvey
Notable 2011 Stats: 2.37 ERA, 2.66 FIP, 5 HRA, 24 BB, 92 K, and 51% GB% in 76 IP with St. Lucie (High-A);
4.53 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 4 HRA, 23 BB, 64 K, and 51% GB% in 59 2/3 IP with Binghamton (AA);
3.32 ERA, 2.91 FIP, 9 HRA, 47 BB, 156 K, and 51% GB% in 135 2/3 IP total
Why He’s This High: The seventh overall pick in 2010 out of North Carolina, Harvey had an excellent pro debut that saw him excel in both High-A and Double-A, striking out over a batter per inning while throwing a good number of strikes and keeping the ball down.
Harvey throws a power sinker that sits in the 92-94 mph range and complements it with a good power curveball. His changeup is a solid third pitch, and he has a low-maintenance delivery that allows him to spot all three offerings nicely.
Harvey’s offspeed stuff is so advanced that he was actually much better against lefties than righties in 2011, so he’s unlike a lot of sinker-oriented pitchers in that he doesn’t have any problems with opposite-side batters. He’s got a big frame and should be a bigtime workhorse at the big league level.
Why He’s This Low: We’re at the stage of the list where quibbles start to get fairly minor. As a 22-year-old top college draftee, Harvey should be expected to perform nearly as well as he actually did in 2011. We should remember that this is a pitcher who is nearly half a year older than Madison Bumgarner, after all.
While all three of Harvey’s pitches are very solid and his command is above-average, there aren’t necessarily any “can’t-miss” attributes about him. He therefore fits a #2 starter mold rather than a #1. The decrease in his K/BB ratio from 3.83 in High-A to 2.78 in Double-A shows that advanced hitters have at least a chance against his arsenal, and it’ll be up to Harvey to keep that from going further backward in Triple-A and the majors.
Conclusions: Harvey slots in just ahead of the two other bigtime Mets pitching prospects, Zack Wheeler (#51) and Jeurys Familia (#54). He doesn’t have Familia’s mechanical issues or Wheeler’s control problems, and he’s more consistent than either of the other two, so he’s a safer bet to have a long and productive MLB career. However, he may have the worst stuff of the trio (although all three have very good stuff), so he’s perhaps the least likely of the three to place in the top five in Cy Young voting at least once in his career. He should be a groundball machine with a good enough strikeout-to-walk ratio to be a very valuable rotation piece.
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