Rising Apple Player of the Week: Matt Harvey

By Matt Musico

The Rising Apple staff chooses one player to highlight on our site for their outstanding or unique performance for the last week. If you have a nomination on who should be crowned as the Rising Apple Player of the Week, please let us know! You can leave us a comment, tweet us (@RisingAppleBlog) or make a comment on Facebook.

It was a tight vote for today’s Player of the Week honors, as the staff was virtually split between Brian Bixler and Matt Havey, but the majority has spoken, as the right-handed hurler takes home the award for the first time in 2013. Harvey didn’t have his best start the last time he took the mound, but he minimized the damage against the Washington Nationals to still be effective overall. In that start, he gave up a three-run homer, which came after an error, and he was able to recover after that rough first inning to last for four frames. What was more impressive was his start against the Miami Marlins.

March 13, 2013; Viera, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher

Matt Harvey

(33) throws a pitch during the spring training game against the Washington Nationals at Space Coast Stadium. The Nationals beat the Mets 8-5. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Harvey was in mid-season form, as he threw 4.1 perfect innings against the Fish, while striking out five hitters. His control has been on point for most of the spring, and it was displayed here, throwing 24 of his 25 pitches for strikes. Despite the rough start against the Nationals, Harvey still ended up throwing 30 of his 35 pitches in the strike zone.

To see the growth from one year to the next for Harvey is amazing; last spring in Port St. Lucie, we watched him struggle in five innings (three appearances), as he did not look ready for the Big Leauges at all. In those five innings, he put together a 9.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, walked three, struck out three, and surrendered three homers. This spring, it’s been a whole different story; he’s allowed the same number of homers and walks as last year, but he’s thrown more than double the innings (13 IP) and has racked up 18 strikeouts.

In his first Big League camp, there was a lot of pressure on him to show that he was ready for the next level. He tried his best (maybe a little too hard) to display that, ended up trying to do too much, and it didn’t yield the results he was hoping for. However, Harvey said last March that his struggles were a lesson for him and he took a lot away from the experience. Then came his Big League debut last July against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he used those next ten starts to establish himself. Now, he’s in camp this year solely to get himself ready for the season, instead of having to fight for a spot in the rotation. That confidence and job security goes a long way for a player’s effectiveness, and we’re seeing that in Harvey.

With Zack Wheeler on the brink of the Show, there looks to be plenty of similarities between both their paths to the Big Leagues, and let’s hope Wheeler’s is as seemless and encouraging as Harvey’s was.

Congratulations to Matt on his first Player of the Week award this season; we can only hope it will be the first of many great weeks we see from the righty in 2013.

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