BALTIMORE – Hunter Harvey and Josh Hart couldn’t wait to get their professional careers started. Less than three weeks removed from being drafted by the Orioles, the two top draft picks signed with the team on Tuesday.
Harvey, a right-handed pitcher from Catawba N.C., was the 22nd pick in the first round of this month’s draft. Hart, a center fielder was chosen 37th in the competitive balance round.
Both will start at entry-level Gulf Coast. Neither wanted to defer pro ball and attend college instead.
Harvey, the son of former major league closer Bryan Harvey and brother of Kris, who’s in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, decided his older brother, who went to Clemson knew best.
“My brother told me, ‘three years from now, you can be a junior in college or you can be possibly in the big leagues,’” Harvey said.
Hart, from Parkview, Ga., was rumored as a possible college signee, but he, too decided he wanted to play with the Orioles.
“I’ve been leaning towards professional ball for quite a long time,” Hart said. “College will always be a Plan B, something to fall back on.
Professional ball is where it’s at right now.”
Harvey was 8-0 with 116 strikeouts in 11 games in high school.
“We think he has a chance to be a frontline starter down the road,” Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich said.
Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette likes Harvey’s bloodlines.
“Hunter has the advantage of growing up in professional ball,” Duquette said.
Hart got to fulfill a dream by meeting Adam Jones after the signing was announced, and Rajsich raved about him.
“He has that unique combination of tools and instincts. On any given day, you go to the ballpark and watch him play and he’ll do something to impact your ballclub. He can do it with either his glove or his arm. He can beat you with his legs,” Rajsich said.
Hart hit .449 with 29 RBIs and 34 steals this season.
When Duquette was hired in November 2011, he said one of his goals was to beef up the Orioles’ farm system. In Rajsich’s first draft, the Orioles chose Kevin Gausman with the fourth overall pick.
“I think you have to give it a little time,” Duquette said. “We’ve got to establish that our best players are going to come to the big leagues through the farm system. “
Duquette seemed pleased with the draftees.
“They have all the skills and abilities to be major league players and to make a contribution to the team,” he said.