Harvey Sneaky Fast

STATEN ISLAND, NY - Right-handed reliever Joe Harvey is finishing up his first professional season with the Staten Island Yankees. The former Pittsburgh Panther has developed his slider and has gained better control over his fastball this season, but it's his deceptively quick fastball that has forced many to take notice.

As a Pittsburgh Panther, Harvey, who was a reliever in his first two years of school but transitioned to starting role this past season, led his team with 56 strikeouts and started 12 games.

He finished his year there with a 2-2 record and 71.1 innings pitched. Although he had a strenuous collegiate season he has been able to maintain his velocity with the Staten Island Yankees.

"Pitt was the most innings I've thrown in my career," he said. "But here it probably just took me like a week or two to get my velocity where I wanted it to be. It's been pretty easy to maintain."

Once prone to walking batters in his earlier days in college, Harvey has become more of a strike-thrower in 2014. Staten Island manager Mario Garza admires Harvey's aggressive attitude while on the mound.

"He attacks hitters, he has a good fastball and he likes his fastball," Garza said. "He's kind of a max effort guy that really comes after hitters which I think is good."

Pitching coach Tim Norton is happy with the progress the young player has made throughout the season, particularly with his fastball and slider.

"I love the kid, he has a live arm, there's something about that fastball," Norton added. "He's low to mid [90s] but it seems like it's even harder. It really gets on the guys, he forces a lot of late swings, he throws strikes. He's got a slider that's pretty good. It's going to get a lot better. He's done great for us."

He has posted a 1.96 ERA through his first 13 appearances with Staten Island this season, including a current eight straight scoreless appearance streak.

With his fastball sitting around 93-94 and 16 strikeouts in 18.1 innings this season, Harvey is off to a good start. He credits his teammates for their fielding and strong defense this season.

"I think it's going pretty well," Harvey noted on his performance this season. "I'm fortunate my defense has been playing great behind me. I made some good pitches, but it's mostly defense just playing really well and the opposing team is putting the ball in play so it's making it easy on them."

The Pennsylvania native throws a four-seam fastball, slider, and changeup. His slider and changeup both sit around 80 but Harvey is working on getting his slider up to 85 mph. He also tends to favor his fastball over his other pitches.

"It's kind of deceiving I guess and it has been my go-to pitch for most of the season," Harvey noted on his fastball that caught the eye of both Garza and Norton.

Garza and Norton believe his fastball command has improved greatly throughout the season while Norton added that his slider tightened up and became more effective.

"We're all just working on fastball command, being aggressive, and attacking hitters. I think from the first outing to the last he's improved there," Garza said.

"I'd say his slider has tightened up a little bit [too]," Norton added. "No doubt it has and his fastball command [has improved]. He had zone control when he first got here but now it's up and down wherever he wants it. So overall I'd say the fastball command has improved."

With his fastball about as good as it gets, moving forward Garza would like to see Harvey continue to develop his secondary pitches, especially as he gets ready to move to the upper levels in the coming years.

"His secondary pitches, developing that breaking ball to play a little more frequently and for him to be able to throw one for a strike and one for a put away," Garza noted on areas that need some improvement.

"I think if he tightens up that slider he's going to have something. He's going to be the backend of the bullpen guy, really whatever we want him to be. He's got a pretty good changeup too but his slider has tightened up and he can have three quality pitches," Norton added.

With the season coming to an end, Harvey plans to return home and get ready for the 2015 season. After a full spring and summer season this year, the young pitcher will have time to rest after what can only be labeled a successful first season.

"I wasn't really expecting much [this season], I just wanted to come out here and give it my best. It's turned out pretty well so far and I'm pretty happy with it," Harvey concluded.

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