With the seventh overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, the Mets selected 21-year-old Matt Harvey, starting pitcher from UNC.
Originally drafted by the Angels in 2007, Harvey chose to attend college instead. At the time the Angels drafted him, Harvey was widely considered the best high school pitching prospect in the country.
Harvey has a mid-90s fastball, which has been clocked as high as 98 mph, along with a mid-80s slider and low-80s curve and changeup. In his final season with the Tar Heels, Harvey went 8-3 with a 3.09 ERA in 14 starts, striking out 102 batters and walking just 35 in 96 innings. He was 22-7 with a 3.73 ERA 54 games (43 starts) during his time at UNC with 263 strikeouts.
Given his age and lack of minor league experience, there is little to no chance Harvey will make the big league team out of Spring Training next year, but with the Mets in desperate need of both starting pitching and bullpen help, is it possible Harvey could find himself a mid-season call-up?
Mets manager Terry Collins was recently asked about Matt Harvey during a Q&A at the Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL. About Harvey's chances of impacting the club next season, Collins said:
"You know, I don't ever doubt. I never take that, hey, look, this guy needs a year in the minor leagues. Some of those guys just deal. You put them out there and they keep winning and getting better...And if Matt goes out and we start him, no matter where they wanted to start him in the minor leagues, and he pitches his way out of that league, who knows where he'll end up."
The Mets have made it very clear that the only type of moves they have the financial ability to make this offseason are for low risk/high reward-type players. They have been linked to such names as Chris Young, Brandon Webb and Jeff Francis.
The Mets also need bullpen help, having lost Hisanori Takahashi and Pedro Feliciano to free agency.
We still have plenty of time before Spring Training begins in April, so perhaps the Mets will be able to add enough players to contend in 2011. But if not, they're going to be forced to look internally for help to fill in their 25-man roster.
Harvey probably won't be a part of that straight out of Spring Training, but as Collins said, if Harvey can quickly rise through whatever minor league level the Mets start him at, perhaps he can give Mets fans something to watch in 2011.
Harvey is incredibly strong and has a notorious work ethic. The Mets need players like this—the common term is "gamer." One critique of the Mets over the last few years has been a lack of gritty, "never say die" type of play. Having guys like Harvey in their system certainly helps.
Curious about Harvey's strength? Consider this: In a game against Clemson University, despite being sick, Harvey struck out the side in both the sixth and seventh innings, and had retired 10 straight Tigers by the end of the eighth inning. With his 157th pitch, Harvey smoked a 96-mph fastball past Clemson's DH Wilson Boyd.