On November 9th, James Chipman launched the 2012 Seedlings to Stars Florida State League All-Star Team with an intro post. He went on to reveal 8 members of the team before leaving our site to focus his writing efforts on out Detroit Tigers site, Motor City Bengals. Nathaniel and I decided that we needed to reveal the rest of the team to take the series to its planned endpoint. To tie up the loose end I will be unveiling the rest of roster and will follow a similar format to what James was doing for consistency.
Today I am pleased to announce our selection for the team’s #5 Starter (for the record the slotting of the pitchers 1-5 is fairly arbitrary).
Name: Matt Harvey
Height: 6′ 4″
Weight: 210-225 lbs
2011 FSL Team: St. Lucie Mets
2011 FSL Stats: 76.0 IP (14 GS), 2.37 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 7.9 H/9, 2.8 BB/9, 10.9 SO/9 and 3.83 SO/BB
The New York Mets nabbed Matt Harvey in the 1st round (7th overall) of the 2010 draft and then paid him a $2.525 million bonus to get him under contract at the deadline. It was the culmination of his amateur journey that at one time included a ranking as the top high school pitching prospect in that country. That year was 2007 and it was then that the Los Angeles Angels selected him in the 3rd round out of Fitch Senior HS in Groton, CT. They tried to woo him away from his commitment to the University of North Carolina, but obviously they failed in their efforts. Harvey went to college and wound up evolving into an ace for the Tarheels just as you’d expect based on his prep pedigree.
2008: 67.2 IP (19 G/16 GS), 2.79 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 6.9 H/9, 6.3 BB/9, 10/6 SO/9
2009: 75.0 (21 G/13 GS), 5.40 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, 10.6 H/9, 5.0 BB/9, 9.7 SO/9
2010: 96.0 IP (14 GS), 3.09 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 7.5 H/9, 3.3 BB/9, 9.6 SO/9
Behind the Numbers:
Harvey has the arm strength and front-of-the-rotation stuff when it’s on and he’s going well. The big question mark – and it’s one that has been around since his high school days – is whether or not he will develop the ability to consistently throw strikes. Through three years of college and his first season of professional ball the progression has been steady and encouraging. Even during his struggles as a sophomore he improved in that regard. To that end, maybe it’s not such a big question anymore – at least not more for him than any other pitching prospect out there.
Also encouraging is the fact that his first stop in the minors surpassed his best year with the Tarheels. If the Mets had started him out in rookie ball that might have been expected, but opening in the FSL should have been a much stiffer challenge than it apparently was.
That’s to Harvey’s credit.
Also to his credit is the fact that he survived in Double-A over 12 starts after being promoted from the FSL. In his time with Binghamton he had a 4.53 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 8.7 H/9, 3.5 BB/9 and 9.7 SO/9. The numbers predictably slipped but not as much as you’d expect given his lack of pro experience.
For this section I’ll pull from Nathaniel’s write up on Harvey, who came in at #45 on our Top-100 prospect list.
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.
Nathaniel references that Harvey throws a power curveball, but he’s also capable of throwing a mid-80s slider that shows some promise. The Mets prefer that he stick with the curve but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that both pitches become a part of his regular package down the road. The above is also a tad conservative in terms of his velocity on his fastball. Prior to this season John Sickels’ had him sitting comfortably in the 91-95 mph range, while Baseball America has him throwing between 92-96.
In college he showed the ability – and it is one that often gets overlooked in assessing pitching prospects – to carry his velocity deep into games. That fact was on full display on a number of occasions with UNC including a 158-pitch complete game. His final pitch on that day was clocked at 96.
With the scouting report and progression in mind it’s hard to keep my excitement in check when projecting what Matt Harvey could become. But then again it’s in that projection that I’m given pause. After all how much better can he get? How much can his stuff improve?
At 22-years old – he’ll be 23 by Opening Day – and having developed in college we can’t assume he’s going to “fill out” further. Thus, we can’t anticipate that he will add any additional velocity to his repertoire as a result. That means any gains in velocity and improvement in his arsenal are going to have to come from mechanical refinement and development of his pitching acumen. Of course he can already hit 97 when he lets it go and can sit comfortably a few MPH below that so a lack of velocity isn’t going to be an issue.
By all accounts, he’s a hard worker so it’s reasonable to believe he will be able to make some strides in his mechanics and developing a “feel” for pitching will happen naturally as he logs more innings. Will those improvements be enough to keep up with the increasing level of competition as he advances through the minors and reaches the major leagues?
How you answer that question probably plays a huge part when it comes to where you project Harvey in the Mets rotation. Nathaniel, in his write-up, tabs Matt as a future #2 which is a level-headed assessment and projection. It’s also one that kind of splits the difference with my own assessment. I believe Harvey has a reasonable chance to be evolve into a legit #1. As far as a floor, if he stays healthy and keeps his walk-rate in check I think the Mets are looking at a #3 starter at worst and that’s certainly not too shabby.
To review the rest of our 2011 Florida State League All-Star Team, click here.
For more on the Mets, check out Rising Apple