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Hunter Harvey’s Major League debut a bright spot in long Orioles season

Hunter Harvey’s Major League debut a bright spot in long Orioles season

For some first-round draft picks, the Major Leagues are merely a season or two away. Other top prospects take longer, sometimes three or four seasons. Hunter Harvey’s path was a bit more complicated than that.

It was more than six years ago that Harvey was selected by the Orioles in the 2013 MLB Draft. Early in his professional career, he looked like a potential steal as the 22nd pick in that year’s class. He dominated hitters at the lower levels of the minor leagues, and looked like a future staple atop the Orioles rotation.

Of course, there’s a reason the old adage “there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect” exists.

Harvey missed the entire 2015 season with elbow tightness, then pitched just 12.2 innings in 2016 before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He threw only 18.2 innings in 2017 after his recovery, so he entered the 2018 season having tossed just 144.1 innings in five years since being drafted.

Harvey was still used as a starter in 2018 across 32.1 mostly unspectacular innings, but this season, the front office decided to try him out as a reliever.

Early on, it’s been a terrific transition for Harvey, whose natural arm talent plays up even more in shorter stints. And it was out of the bullpen that Harvey finally, after all these years, made his big league debut Saturday.

And what a debut it was.

Working around a walk, Harvey tossed a hitless, scoreless inning against the heart of the vaunted Red Sox lineup. He averaged over 98 mph on his fastball, while flashing potential plus offspeed pitches. 

Harvey ended the inning with back-to-back strikeouts, a stretch that included nine consecutive strikes.

The Orioles haven’t had many positive moments to point to in 2019, but this definitely qualifies as one. If he can harness his incredible stuff and -- here’s the key -- stay healthy, Harvey could be a dominant late-inning reliever, or potentially even a mid-rotation starter.

Of all the players to wear the orange and black in Baltimore this season, Harvey is one of the few who can stick around long enough to contribute to the next great Orioles team.

More than any excitement surrounding his future, it’s just cool to see somebody overcome countless obstacles to realize their dreams.

That experience wasn’t lost on Harvey himself.

From his incredible mullet, to his long and winding road to the Majors, there’s a lot to cheer for with Harvey. If he can replicate his debut inning a few more times this season, then fans in Baltimore will have to admit he was worth the wait.

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Report: Orioles trade Dylan Bundy to the Angels

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Report: Orioles trade Dylan Bundy to the Angels

Wednesday has already brought a flurry of transactions in Major League Baseball, and the Orioles got in on the frenzy by trading Dylan Bundy to the Angels. 

According to Ken Rosenthal, Baltimore sent Bundy to LA in exchange for Triple-A pitching prospect Isaac Mattson. Jeff Passan reported that the three pitchers included in the package to Baltimore are Zach Peek, Kyle Bradish and Kyle Brnovich. 

The Orioles took Bundy fourth overall in the 2011 draft, but the right-hander wasn't able to become the ace they were hoping for in his first four seasons in the big leagues. 

In 2019 he went 7-14 with a 4.79 ERA over 161 innings pitched. His ERA never dipped below 4.00 during his tenure with the Orioles. 

Mattson was a 19th round pick by the Angels in 2017 and has yet to make an appearance in the majors. Last season he threw 73.1 innings for three different minor-league clubs and posted a 2.33 ERA with an opponent batting average of .184. 

Peek and Brnovich are both 2019 draft picks, while Bradish threw 101 innings in the California league last season. He posted a 4.28 ERA and .235 opponent batting average in 18 starts. 

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Report: Orioles place infielder Jonathan Villar on waivers

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Report: Orioles place infielder Jonathan Villar on waivers

The Baltimore Orioles may be in need of a new starting second baseman after reportedly waiving Jonathan Villar on Wednesday, giving other teams the opportunity to claim him before he likely becomes a free agent on Monday.

Villar, projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make $10.4 million in his final year of arbitration, played all 162 games for the Orioles last season. He hit .274 with a .792 OPS while setting a career high in home runs (24) and stealing 40 bases.

The 28-year-old provides most of his value with his legs, with which he’s stolen 160 bases since 2016—second in baseball over that span behind only Billy Hamilton (173). Villar can also play multiple infield positions, logging over 300 career games at both second base and shortstop with experience at third and the outfield as well.

If Villar isn’t claimed by Monday, the Orioles will either negotiate a cheaper salary or non-tender a contract to him and allow him to become a free agent. With a weak free agent class at both second base and shortstop, Villar would likely have no problem finding a new employer for his services.

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