The Angels clearly landed the biggest fish in baseball this season in rookie phenom Mike Trout, the outfielder who is making a push to win the American League most valuable player award, but they and their fans got a painful reminder Thursday night of one who got away.
Matt Harvey made his big league debut for the New York Mets, allowing three hits and striking out 11 in 5 1/3 innings of a 3-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix.
The right-hander’s fastball touched 98 mph and he showed a sharp curve, the kind of electric stuff that should make the 23-year-old a force in the Mets rotation for years to come.
He could have been an Angel. Under then-scouting director Eddie Bane, the Angels selected Harvey, then a senior at Fitch High School in Groton, Conn., in the third round in 2007.
But Harvey turned down a $1-million bonus offer to go to the University of North Carolina, a move his father, Ed, called “the major disappointment in his life, at that point, not signing out of high school.”
Harvey blossomed as a junior at North Carolina, and the Mets used the seventh overall pick of the 2010 draft on him. Harvey signed for $2.52 million, the third-largest bonus in Mets history, and two years later he reached the big leagues with a huge splash.
No Mets pitcher — not Tom Seaveror Dwight Gooden — had ever struck out 11 in a major league debut, and as a bonus, Harvey had two hits, a single and a double. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Harvey was the first pitcher since 1900 to have at least 10 strikeouts and two hits in his major league debut.
“I like this guy a lot,” Mets Manager Terry Collins, a former Angels manager, said. “I liked him the first time I ever met him. I always go back to a thing Wade Boggs told me one time. ‘Few men dare to be great.’ This guy wants to be great.”
Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times