It's easy to understand why Hunter Harvey feels like he's been living in the shadows his entire baseball life.
Hunter's older brother, Kris, was selected by the Marlins in the second round of the 2005 Draft out of Clemson University, where he was a standout two-way player. As if that wasn't enough, his father is Bryan Harvey, the two-time All Star and 1988 Rookie of the Year runner-up who led the American League with 46 saves in 1991.
Bloodlines and heritage aside, the younger Harvey is looking to carve a niche for himself. The Orioles selected him with their first pick -- 22nd overall -- in last year's Draft, and the right-hander hopes to move to a full-season league to begin 2014.
MiLB.com caught up with the Orioles' No. 3 prospect to discuss his changeup, hitting off a tee as a 2-year-old and the reason his signability was never in doubt leading up to the Draft.
MiLB.com: How's the offseason been?
Hunter Harvey: It's been really good so far. I started to throw about three or four weeks after I got home. I started to work out, started to throw again. I've been deer hunting and hanging out with family.
I'm just trying to put on weight right now -- that's what I'm trying to work on the most, get a little size. Last time I weighed in, I was at 185. By Spring Training, I want to be at least 190 and hopefully I can pick up a little more velocity with it. I was sitting anywhere from 92 mph to 96 mph and I touched 97 mph a couple times. Hopefully, I can get up to the upper 90s if I add that weight.
MiLB.com: In terms of your repertoire, is it still fastball, curveball, changeup, or are you adding a fourth pitch?
Harvey: Yeah, it's fastball, curveball, change. I think my fastball is by far my best pitch, I can command it the best. My changeup -- we worked on it a lot this year with my pitching coaches and everyone at the Orioles. My fastball and curveball, they're at least near where I want them. Now I just have to keep working on my changeup.
MiLB.com: What do you need to do to get the changeup where you want it?
Harvey: I just need to get more used to throwing it in games. In high school, I was a fastball-dominant pitcher, I didn't need to use it much. I used it a little bit this year in my first year of pro ball, but I need to get a better feel for it, know how it comes out. I need to be able to command it and get that consistent arm slot to make it work like it's meant to.
MiLB.com: How would you describe your mechanics? Are you making any tweaks this winter?
Harvey: I guess my dad taught me my mechanics, and it's just something that works for me coming over the top. I'm near three-quarters with [my arm slot]. I have a little bit of a pause when I go down. It's almost like [Dodgers ace Clayton] Kershaw if you've ever seen him, but it's not quite that bad as a stop, it's a little more fluid. Apart from that, it's all pretty smooth. My fastball is just straight over the top, a regular four-seamer. I get behind it and get really good angle on it. And the curveball is a 12-to-6.
MiLB.com: How difficult is it having to throw the changeup in a game situation when you know you could have more success with the fastball or curveball?
Harvey: While I was in Aberdeen, I worked on my changeup with [IronBirds pitching coach] Alan Mills in the bullpen. He said, just go out and pitch my game and don't do anything that I wouldn't do normally. I used it a little bit, but maybe not even as much as they wanted me to, because I was using the ones I was better with.
MiLB.com: As a first-round Draft pick with a big signing bonus, what was it like making your professional debut in the Gulf Coast League in front of just a couple hundred people?
Harvey: It was awesome. Playing at 12 o'clock every day was a grind, maybe more than it was when I got up to Aberdeen. The GCL was not what I expected, but Aberdeen was what I knew it would be.
MiLB.com: You mentioned your father taught you how to pitch. How much of an influence was he growing up?
Harvey: He was the main role model. Just about everything I know about baseball, the game, how to play it, stuff to look out for -- everything came from him. This is all my family does. My brother played for about 10 years in the Minor Leagues, my dad played for 10 years in the big leagues and we all teach at our baseball facility now. This is what our family's doing now, 24/7.
MiLB.com: What are some of your earliest baseball memories with your father?
Harvey: I never got to see my dad play in the big leagues. I was alive for the last couple years, but I was too young to really notice. I think my first real experience was watching my brother play, going to watch him at Clemson. My brother had me hitting off a tee when I was 2 years old, and I played my first baseball game when I was 3. I stared playing tee-ball when I was 3 years old. I was really blessed because most people don't have their brother and their dad play baseball professionally. It's been awesome to have both of them there.
We used to play a lot at the old house where my grandmother lived. We'd always play Wiffleball and play catch and go 1-on-1 with each other. It was awesome. I've watched most of the videos my dad has. I think his first game was against the Orioles. It's kind of cool to know my dad played in the big leagues for that long. He's been where I want to get to, so it was pretty cool to watch.
MiLB.com: When did you know you wanted to follow in his footsteps?
Harvey: That's been what I wanted to do since I started playing. It was always my favorite thing to do; I loved it. I was telling my dad when I was 7 or 8 years old that I was going to be a baseball player. When I got to high school and my arm started getting better and stronger and I could start throwing harder, my dad told me I had a really good chance of doing it. It was all I ever really worked for. I'm sure I still would have played even if my dad and brother hadn't. My dad was really lucky because he didn't get drafted; he just happened to get picked up. He got signed from an American Legion game. Once he did that, it really just threw our family into baseball.
MiLB.com: When did pro scouts start taking note of you?
Harvey: The first time I saw any scouts was in my junior year when they came to watch somebody we were playing against and I happened to have the best game of my year. That's when they really started talking about me. Then, after the two showcases I went to, my name started getting out there a little more. And then my senior year, they started piling into my games.
You can see them coming. They would take up the whole middle section of our bleacher right behind home plate. Everybody else stayed clear of that area. I tried to pretend like they weren't there. I was just playing my game, going out there and doing what I do and trying to ignore them. The days that I pitched I was beyond focused, especially knowing I had 20 or 30 scouts watching me. They control my future, control where I'm going to be.
MiLB.com: Who showed the most interest?
Harvey: Most of them, but especially the Braves and the Angels. The Braves scout was calling us almost every day, talking to us. And the Angels guy was calling all the time. It seemed like they were the two teams that seemed the most interested. I didn't really care; I just wanted to play. It didn't matter what team picked me.
MiLB.com: It was known before the Draft that there wasn't going to be a signability issue because you said you didn't want to go to a four-year college. Why was that?
Harvey: I mean, I was just never a big fan of school. When I found out I had the chance to go into professional baseball, I put all my eggs in that basket. If I would have had to, I would have gone to a junior college, but that just wasn't what I wanted to do with my life. I didn't want to go to college, I wanted to be a professional baseball player. That's what I really tried to work on.
Me and my dad talked about it, and we decided we didn't want to try and use that as leverage. I wasn't going to play any games with the scouts -- I was telling them straight-up that if they picked me I would sign. I could have gone to college after that, but I have no regrets at all.
MiLB.com: Your brother, Kris, went to Clemson. Did you speak with him about maybe going to college?
Harvey: I think he was glad he went to college. That's where he met his wife, and now they have two kids. I think he was happy he did that, but I don't think my dad would have made that same choice to go to college. Kris had two offers out of high school and he was selected in the fifth round [by the Braves] out of high school, but he wanted to go to Clemson.
MiLB.com: Where do you think you'll start 2014 -- Aberdeen or one of the higher levels?
Harvey: I'd like to move up a level, that would be nice. Maybe starting in Frederick or Delmarva, but it depends on how I do in Spring Training.
MiLB.com: What do you need to do to make that happen?
Harvey: I just need to get a little bit tougher and get ready to play a full season. There will be a lot more games to play and a lot more innings to pitch. In high school, I was pitching in games once a week and I was in a seven-day rotation, so my arm never really got tired. I think it will be OK. I'll be working out to build it up, so I think it will be OK.
MiLB.com: It's obviously still early in your baseball development, but with your father enjoying such a good career, do you need to have a career like his to consider yourself successful?
Harvey: I want to be better than my dad, I want to have bragging rights over him. We're always in a little challenge, always competing. One of my goals is to be better than my brother and my dad. I was in their shadows, but I'm starting to come out and people are starting to hear a little bit about me, but I am still in my dad's shadows just a little bit. If people know me, they automatically know who my dad is. But he has stayed on me hard my whole life and there was no goofing off, especially when it came to baseball. He'd push me and make me work hard.
I think the way me and my dad play, we both go right after hitters. We don't try to play around with people, we just attack them. I watch a lot of [Tigers All-Star Justin] Verlander and I watch how he overpowers people with his fastball-curveball, and that's what I've tried to do in high school and in my first year in pro ball.
MiLB.com: Did you ever get in situations where people assumed you got special treatment because you were his son?
Harvey: I mean, some kids might have thought in high school that I was only making the team because of my dad, but none of that bothered me. If people thought I was special just because my dad played in the big leagues, I never took it that way. I just got on the field and played my game, and that's how I shut everybody up.