When Ryan Harvey clubbed a solo homer in the second inning of the Daytona Cubs' July 28 contest with the visiting Clearwater Threshers, he had no idea he was on his way to the top single-game performance of the Class A Advanced season.
The 21-year-old slugger, who led the Midwest League with 24 homers in 2005, went deep three more times before the evening was over, capped by a walk-off three-run blast in the bottom of the ninth.
"The day felt pretty much like any other day," said Harvey, who was named MiLB.com's Class A Advanced Single-Game Performer of the Year after spearheading the Cubs' 10-9 victory over the Threshers.
"So when I hit that first homer, nothing seemed very unusual. But pretty much after that, it was like, 'Whoa, what's going on right now?'"
After grounding out in the fourth, Harvey clubbed solo shots in the sixth and eighth innings before ending a four-run ninth with his fourth and final blast off reliever Patrick Overholt, who had yielded one earned run over 9 1/3 innings since a promotion from Class A Lakewood.
"I thought they were going to walk me, but as I got to the plate, I saw the catcher sit down behind me," Harvey said of his final at-bat.
"So I said to myself, 'Well, here it is. Can you come through when the game is on the line?' I had confidence and tried not to think about anything. Good things tend to happen when you're not thinking. The first pitch he threw, I saw it good. I thought it was a slider, but a lot of people told me afterwards it was a fastball."
The Chicago Cubs' 2003 first-round draft pick became the first player in Florida State League history to hit four homers in a game.
"When I hit it, I think the whole stadium was in shock," said Harvey. "The Threshers didn't leave the field until after I touched home plate. I don't think they could believe what had happened.
"And the fans just stayed in the park celebrating for an hour afterwards. I think the best thing was the reaction of my manager, Buddy Bailey. He's not a guy who shows a whole lot of emotion, but he was running around and jumping up and down with the biggest smile on his face that I'd ever seen him have."
After hitting .206 with seven homers and 41 RBIs through June, the Florida native batted .316 with 13 homers and 43 RBIs over the final two months of the campaign.
Twelve days before his four-homer effort, Harvey drove in seven runs against the Palm Beach Cardinals. His strong finish to the season helped him take an optimistic attitude into the offseason.
"I came into the second half telling myself I had to make this year worth it, that I really had to go out there and prove myself," he said. "I wanted everyone to know I wasn't the same player they saw earlier in the season, and I think I accomplished that."