Baltimore Orioles: Will we finally see Hunter Harvey in 2019?
By Tim Smart
Hunter Harvey has long been one of the top-rated prospects in the Baltimore Orioles system but he hasn’t been able to overcome constant injuries throughout his career. Will he finally break through and pitch for the Orioles in 2019?
Expectations have always been high for Baltimore Orioles pitcher Hunter Harvey; that’s a product of being a first round draft pick. But Harvey hasn’t had the chance to live up to them.
Harvey has dealt with a swath of injuries during his professional career. The injuries started with forearm discomfort, which prematurely ended his 2014 season. He then missed the entirety of 2015 after being hit by a comeback line-drive.
Harvey went into 2016 with expectations still high, but he was only able to get through 12.2 innings before his forearm tightness returned, leading to eventual Tommy John surgery.
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TJ effectively stole two full seasons from Harvey, both 2016 and 2017; nevertheless, he hung around near the top of Orioles prospect rankings heading into the 2017-2018 offseason.
Coming into 2018, MLB Pipeline had Harvey as the 4th rated prospect in the Orioles system, despite the fact that he’d pitched just 31.1 innings in the three years prior.
Instead of beginning the season in Bowie as planned, the Orioles called Harvey up to the majors in early April, even though he’d only been able to get 18.2 post-TJ rehab innings in at the end of 2017.
While in reality he was just called up as a back-end of the bullpen insurance arm, it felt curious at the time because the Orioles had him scheduled for a de-facto rehab start that got skipped while he was sitting on the bench in Baltimore.
Leave it to the Orioles to mess with a pitcher’s development, but this organization has made these simple mistakes feel like the norm.
After being sent back to Bowie following his two-day stint in Baltimore, Harvey was able to make 9 starts for the Baysox before suffering another freak injury.
While trying to avoid a foul ball in the dugout, Harvey dislocated his shoulder, causing him to miss over two months of the 2018 season.
Harvey attempted to return in late-August but he twice suffered forearm and elbow tightness which led to the Orioles shutting Harvey down for the remainder of the 2018 season.
So here we sit, heading into the 2018-2019 offseason with Harvey having pitched 63.2 innings since late 2014.
Harvey is likely to be rated as a top-10 Orioles prospect heading into the 2019 season; again, that stems from being a former first round pick with the raw talent that Harvey has.
But how much longer will this organization, and similarly Orioles fans, be willing to wait for Harvey now that we’ve been denied his talents for almost another full season?
We can’t say for sure at this point, but it still feels like Harvey has the raw talent to compete at the highest level.
Just looking at his brief 2018 stint in Bowie, Harvey looked good in limited time on the mound.
Yes, his final start of the year against Trenton was a disaster; Harvey pitched 2 innings and allowed 6 runs, 2 homers and didn’t notch a single strikeout.
But if we ignore those two innings, Harvey pitched to a 4.19 ERA in 30.1 innings while posting more than a strikeout per inning and allowing just 9 walks and one homer.
Harvey has always held big strikeout upside, he’s just never had an extended opportunity to showcase his talents.
What we can say is that the Orioles will be doing everything in their power to get Harvey back to full health in 2019. Our expectations should certainly be tempered with Harvey as he’s given us no reason to suggest that he’ll be healthy enough to pitch in the majors for an extended period of time.
But with that underlying talent level, it’s difficult to not remain excited about Harvey’s potential.
We can’t assume health for Harvey at this point; we’re well past that. But if he is healthy, Harvey will contribute in Baltimore during the 2019 season.
I’m of the opinion that he stays healthy enough, impresses in spring training and makes the Opening Day roster for the Orioles.
Is the probability of this quite low? Yes. But we need some optimism around here.