Ryan Harvey, the Chicago Cubs first-round pick in the 2003 MLB Amateur Draft (6th), had such a great year with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Independent Atlantic League that the Atlanta Braves have signed the former first-round pick according to LancasterOnline.
It seems the Barnstormers are just full of talent these days as Harvey joins Blake Gailen in the professional ranks. Gailen recently signed a deal with the Colorado Rockies after one of the best Independent seasons on record (as seen previously on The GM’s Perspective).
Harvey has actually had a very successful minor league career, six seasons with the Cubs' organization and two with the Rockies.
When reviewing his statistics on BaseballReference.com, it’s quite evident that Harvey knows how to play the game and has the numbers to back it up.
In 2005 with the Peoria Chiefs, the Cubs' single-A affiliate, Harvey belted 24 home runs and finished second in the league with 100 RBI. In 2009 with Tulsa, he went deep 23 times, good enough for third in the league.
Unfortunately, the lack of contact appears to be his Achilles’ heel. A career .252 hitter, Harvey has never hit above .270 and has been consistently in the .220’s-to-.240’s, until this year.
With the Barnstormers, Harvey had a breakout year of sorts. The power numbers were consistent; 27/79, but his batting average was over .300 (.302) for the first time. His .905 OPS was also a career high.
His superb season was wrought with awards, with highlights including being named to Baseball America’s Independent Leagues All-Star first team.
Interestingly enough, according to the Barnstormer’s website and Harvey’s profile, he was signed by the Boston Red Sox in 2011 and the plan was to convert him to a pitcher before an injury stopped that from happening.
On the positive side, Harvey has a lot of talent and is a very valuable commodity, something the Braves are aware of, as well as many others. Let’s hope Harvey, who is still relatively young at 28, can finally reach the big leagues and fulfil the potential that every first-round pick dreams of doing.