Bandys' Harvey ready for his career-defining moment
Hunter Harvey has prepared his entire life and baseball career for Thursday night.
The Bandys senior pitcher is likely to hear his named called that night during the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
The event is being televised at 6 p.m. on the MLB Network.
“I’ve been dreaming about this my whole life and ever since I started playing the game,” Harvey said of being drafted. “My brother had me swinging a bat and playing baseball when I was age 1 or 2. I played my first tee ball game when I was almost. This is all I’ve ever done and the only thing I’ve ever really known.”
Many mock drafts have Harvey — a 6-foot-2 right-handed pitcher — being selected either from just outside of the top 10 to just before the start of the second round.
Should he be drafted in the first round, Harvey would join elite company in the area.
South Caldwell pitcher Madison Bumgarner is the last baseball player from the surrounding area to be selected in the first round.
Bumgarner was taken with the 10th pick in the 2007 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants.
Harvey should also be the first draftee from Catawba County since 2011.
Bunker Hill pitcher Jeremy Null was taken with the second pick in the 37th round by the Seattle Mariners two years ago.
Hickory pitcher Tyler Poole followed Null in the draft and was selected by the Boston Red Sox with the 21st pick in the 38th round.
Null and Poole both turned down the chance to sign with their respective clubs and decided instead to attend Western Carolina and Coastal Carolina universities, respectively.
Lenoir-Rhyne catcher Brian Dice wasn’t selected in the 2011 draft, but later signed a minor league contract with the Florida Marlins (now Miami Marlins).
Many experts have ranked Harvey inside the first round — some higher than others.
ESPN.com’s Keith Law has Harvey going 24th overall to the Oakland Athletics and also ranks him as the 24th overall draft prospect.
Baseball America placed Harvey as the 33rd overall best player in the United States and the second-best player in the state behind University of North Carolina’s Colin Moran — a likely top-10 pick in this year’s draft.
MLB Network also ranked its top 50 draft prospects this week, naming Harvey the 22nd overall draft prospect and the 12th-best pitcher that is available to be drafted.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling knowing you are one of the top guys in the nation,” Harvey said. “It shows you that hard work and everything you do pays off. It’s everything you’ve worked up your whole life to get to.”
Despite the projections, the unpredictability of the draft is gut-wrenching for Harvey.
“I’m a little bit nervous because you never know what is going to happen,” he said. “I’m really pumped up about it. This past week has been the longest. It has taken forever. I’m sure these next two days are going to be like the longest two days of my life, too.”
Harvey ended his senior baseball season at Bandys High School with an 8-0 record in 11 appearances on the mound.
In his 54.2 innings pitched this season, Harvey tallied 116 strikeouts, 17 walks, a 0.38 ERA and just six runs given up (three earned).
He finished his four-year prep career with a 25-5 record, 2.45 ERA and 327 strikeouts in 198.2 innings pitched.
Harvey has kept in shape since the Trojans season ended on May 14 with a 4-0 loss to Shelby in the second round of the 2A playoffs.
“I’m playing Legion right now,” he said. “I still work out and are trying to stay in shape for after the draft.”
A fan of his father’s pro team — the Anaheim Angels — Hunter is excited to play for anyone who takes him.
“I don’t really care where I go as long as I get to go and have the chance to play and a chance to go to the big leagues,” he said. “That’s all I’m really worried about. I don’t care where that is at.”
One possible destination Harvey could land would be with the Texas Rangers, who hold the No. 23 overall selection.
Being chosen by the Rangers would mean that Harvey’s professional baseball career could likely start with the Hickory Crawdads.
“That’d be pretty cool, and they’ve got a team down in Myrtle Beach,” Harvey said of the potential of playing for the Texas organization. “I’d be staying close to home.”
Despite where he ends up, Harvey already has plans for his first couple of purchases after he signs his big-league contract.
“I think I’m going to get a new truck,” he said. “A new (Ford) F-250. I think that’s what I’m going to get and maybe something for my niece. I might get her something. That would be about it, though.”
As for what the moment will be like when he hears his name called on TV, Harvey doesn’t know what to expect after achieving his lifelong dream.
“I’d say it is going to be a pretty good feeling,” he said. “Who knows how it is really going to feel until it happens.”
Whoever takes him and wherever he goes, Hunter is expecting to be showered by love from his family after he starts the next journey of his young life.
“I think dad is getting two or three more TVs to put up because he thinks we are going to have a full house with all of my family,” Hunter said. “I’ve got a pretty big family. We’ll see what happens.”