Mets grab Fitch grad Matt Harvey with seventh overall pick in draft

Fitch graduate Matt Harvey was 8-3 with a 3.09 ERA in 14 starts for North Carolina this season. He struck out 102 and walked 35 in 96 innings.
Fitch graduate Matt Harvey was 8-3 with a 3.09 ERA in 14 starts for North Carolina this season. He struck out 102 and walked 35 in 96 innings.

Three years ago, after being drafted in the third round out of high school, Matt Harvey decided to put professional baseball on hold and pitch for the University of North Carolina, raising some eyebrows along the way.

But on Monday, Harvey proved that decision to be the best of his 21-year-old life.

Harvey, a 2007 Fitch High School graduate, was selected by the New York Mets with the seventh overall pick in the baseball draft.

Harvey, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound right-hander, was 8-3 with a 3.09 ERA in 14 starts, the last of which was a win over California in the NCAA tournament when he struck out nine, and gave up just four hits and two runs in six innings of the Tar Heels' 13-2 win. On the season, Harvey struck out 102 batters and walked 35 in 96 innings, holding opponents to a .224 batting average against.

"This pick goes in line with what we feel is important - we talk about pitching, we talk about defense, we talk about speed," general manager Omar Minaya told The Associated Press. "This pick goes in line with what we're trying to build here. To be able to bring Matt Harvey aboard is trying to stay on that focus, especially with our ballpark."

Three years ago, Harvey was selected in the third round (118th overall pick) by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but didn't sign and elected to go to North Carolina.

Harvey, who is being advised by Scott Boras, is 22-7 in his three-year career and, after struggling with his mechanics a bit as a sophomore, righted the ship for his junior year.

"After going through college for three years, what I feel were the best three years of my life, getting to watch the draft and being selected by the Mets seventh overall is something I really take pride in," Harvey said to The AP.

"He had some mechanical issues that he needed to straighten out and he obviously worked very hard to get it straightened out," said John Schiffner, the Plainfield High School coach who coached Harvey with Chatham in the Cape Cod League the past two summers. "When I went to go see him this spring at Carolina, he looked a lot better. He had a better presence about him. He looked far more comfortable on the mound this spring."

Harvey, who played for his father Ed at Fitch, throws in the mid-to-high 90s with a good changeup and breaking pitches, and the fact that he worked so diligently on his mechanical issues is a plus.

"His work ethic is amazing," Schiffner said. "He's an extremely hard worker. He wants to be a big league pitcher and he knows what he has to do to do that. There's no question he was our team leader last summer and for North Carolina this spring. Last year he knew he was struggling and he made no excuses. I've seen guys like him in the same situation pack it up and go home. He refused to do that. He wanted to get better. He knew he had to find it and he eventually did."

Schiffner, who has known Harvey since he was a kid, said days like Monday are one of the best things about coaching in the Cape Cod League.

"It's fabulous," he said. "I couldn't be happier for Ed and his wife (Jackie). This is why you coach in the Cape Cod League, whether it's Matt Harvey from Mystic or someone else. It's pretty exciting that you know you had a little part in that."

UConn third baseman and Branford native Mike Olt was selected by the Texas Rangers with the 49th pick of the first round. Olt set the school's single-season home run record this year (23) and holds the career home run record (44) and career RBI record (177).

The draft runs through Wednesday. Other locals who could be selected are James Madison third baseman Matt Browning (Fitch), Central Connecticut State outfielder Pat Epps (Waterford), Siena outfielder Anthony Giansanti (Montville), Virginia Tech pitcher Jesse Hahn (Fitch), Waterford High pitcher Colin O'Keefe and Montville infielder Jesse Sutherland.


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