Growing Up Fast

A coach's fireballing son is the nation's top draft prospect
April 15, 2007

FITCH HIGH
Groton, Conn.

DON'T ROLL youreyes when Ed Harvey says his son, Matt, is the most gifted player he's workedwith in his 34 years of coaching baseball at Fitch High School in Groton, Conn.He may sound like a slightly deluded parent, but if anything, the 56-year-oldHarvey may be being a bit modest. Matt, who is Baseball America's top-rankedhigh school player in the country, has major league insiders buzzing that he'sthe most talented pitcher the state has ever produced. Two weekends ago scoutsfrom 22 major league teams endured a 30° chill at the Fitch fields to watch therighthanded senior pitch in a scrimmage. "This kid looks like he could bein the majors today," says one of those scouts. "His fastball regularlyhits the mid-90s; his curveball is downright sick. When it's on, he'sunhittable."

Matt was six whenhis mother, Jackie, a second-grade teacher in Groton, began dropping him offafter school at Ed's practices. At eight Matt, who has two older sisters, wastaking part in the team's infield drills and batting practices; by the time hewas 16, his fastball had been clocked in the mid-90s. In 2005 Matt helped leadFitch to a state championship—the school's third under Ed. "I've never hada pitching coach except for my dad," says Matt, who's added 37 pounds ofmuscle since hiring a personal trainer a year and a half ago. (He stands6'4" and weighs 210 pounds.) "Ever since I can remember, he was alwayscorrecting the way I threw. I owe him everything."

Matt, whoseFalcons opened their season last weekend, started attracting serious nationalattention after a dazzling junior year in which he went 5--0 with an 0.82 ERAand 80 strikeouts in 43 innings. Last fall he signed a letter of intent to goto North Carolina, but he is projected to be a top 10 pick in June's majorleague baseball draft. He has already been approached by superagent ScottBoras, who rarely represents high schoolers. "It'd be hard to turn downNorth Carolina," says Harvey, "but if the opportunity is there where Ican be 21 years old and pitching in a major league park, that'd be a dream cometrue."

MOUNDS OF TALENT

MATT HARVEY'S chief competition to be the top highschool player taken in baseball's amateur draft is someone he has much incommon with: righthander Rick Porcello (right) of Seton Hall Prep (West Orange,N.J.). Porcello, at 6'5" and 205 pounds, also throws in the mid-90s and hasgiven a commitment to North Carolina. And scouts monitor his every toss—26 cameto a recent scrimmage. "It's an honor to have people come, but sometimes Ihave to step off the mound and think of how surreal the setting is," saysPorcello, who went 6--0 last year with an 0.30 ERA.

His Pirates, the nation's top-ranked team, are aimingfor their third straight state championship. The title game will be on June 9;the major league baseball draft begins on June 7. "No one knows what willhappen with the draft," Porcello says. "We're just playing high schoolbaseball for now."

PHOTODANA JENSEN/THE DAY (HARVEY)HOT STUFF Matt Harvey throws a mid-90s fastball and a curve described as "sick." PHOTOWILLIAM PERLMAN/THE STAR LEDGER (PORCELLO)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)