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Finally Healthy, Hunter Harvey Ready To Seize Opportunity With Orioles

August 20, 2019
The moment was a long time coming for Hunter Harvey.

After years of battling injuries and moving around all levels of the Orioles' minor-league system, Harvey finally made his MLB debut Aug. 17.

Harvey was ready for the challenge, throwing a scoreless inning with a pair of strikeouts and a walk in a 4-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox. When the inning was completed, Harvey absorbed the cool air of the New England summer, enjoying the vindication. 

"Everything, everything that's slowed me up to this point," Harvey said. "All the injuries, all the negative stuff I had in my past, to overcome that and finally reach my dream has been awesome."

Harvey, 24, has been facing lofty expectations since being selected by the Orioles in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft from Bandys High School in Catawba, N.C. 

He appeared to be on the fast track to the majors when went 7-5 record and 3.18 ERA in 17 starts for Single-A Delmarva the following year. The injury bug then derailed some of those plans.

Harvey was shut down in May 2015 because of elbow tightness and never appeared in a game for any of the Orioles' minor-league teams that season. The following year, he underwent sports hernia and Tommy John surgeries, the latter of which ended another season. 

Harvey mounted his comeback in 2017, going 0-1 with 0.96 ERA with 30 strikeouts during 18.2 innings for the Gulf Coast Orioles, Short Season-A Aberdeen and Low-A Delmarva. 

Harvey was then hampered by shoulder injuries in 2018 after he got hurt avoiding a foul ball in the dugout while he was with Double-A Bowie. He was limited to 32.1 innings (nine starts) for the Baysox that year; he went 1-2 with a 5.57 ERA during that stretch. He was called up to the 25-man roster in April 2018 but never made an appearance. 

Harvey's career took a dramatic turn this season. He went 2-5 with a 5.19 ERA in 11 starts for Bowie. He was then shifted to the bullpen where he thrived, posting a 2.81 ERA with 33 strikeouts and seven walks in 25.2 innings between the Baysox and Triple-A Norfolk.

That performance earned him a promotion to the Orioles. 

Manager Brandon Hyde was impressed with the abbreviated outing Aug. 17. Harvey threw 21 pitches, including 14 for strikes, and his fastball was clocked at 99.6 miles per hour by Statcast.

"It's obviously electric stuff and to make his debut at Fenway Park and throw 100 mph and throwing strikes and just really attacking their hitters with, obviously, an electric fastball and good off-speed stuff, yeah, that was really fun to watch," Hyde said.

Despite the adversity, Harvey never lost his confidence. Harvey, rated the club's No. 15 prospect by MLB Pipeline, knew he had a major-league talent -- he just had to stay healthy to shine. 

"I've been trying to say that for the last couple of years. I thought I had it last year, and then something crazy happened," he said.

The Orioles hope their prized right-hander can stay on track for the remainder of this season and beyond.