SALISBURY -- Hunter Harvey, the Orioles' 2013 first-round pick, and Washington Nationals top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito matched heat Wednesday night to start the first half of a frigid doubleheader at Perdue Stadium.
Harvey struck out seven in six innings of one-hit, shutout ball for the Delmarva Shorebirds, who pushed across the game's only run in the bottom of the 15th for a 1-0 win over the Hagerstown Suns. Because of the length of the first game, the second half of the doubleheader was canceled.
The 19-year-old right-hander lowered his ERA to 1.06 through three starts, with 18 strikeouts and eight hits allowed in 18 total innings.
Harvey, working almost exclusively with his fastball early in the outing, used the pitch to coax a pair of groundballs out of the first two Hagerstown batters before breaking out his curveball for a swinging strikeout to end the inning.
“That was probably the best thing I had, to be able to command my fastball,” Harvey said after the game. “When you can do that, it’s easy to get ground ball outs. Knowing that you have that to go to, it’s really helpful.”
Shorebirds manager Ryan Minor said Harvey’s fastball command was key to his success Wednesday.
“When you’re able to locate your fastball, it makes it hard on hitters,” Minor said. “They have to protect both sides of the plate with a guy that’s commanding like that.”
After sitting 92-93 mph with his fastball in the first inning, Harvey ramped up to 94-95 mph in the second. He set the side down in order in the second and opened the third with a strikeout before the Suns collected their only hit of the outing when David Masters hit a single to right field. Masters was caught stealing during the next at-bat, and Harvey fanned Rafael Bautista on a 94-mph fastball to end the inning.
In the fourth, Harvey hit the first two batters but picked up two more strikeouts and a flyout to get out of the jam. The right-hander faced the minimum in the fifth and sixth, and ended his night with a swinging strikeout on a 90-mph fastball.
Harvey didn’t maintain his early fastball velocity late in the game, ultimately settling around 90-91 mph. He flashed an 84-mph changeup, but Harvey’s premier secondary pitch was his curveball, which he threw between 77 mph and 80 mph. The breaking ball featured hard, two-plane break and was consistent throughout the outing.
Giolito, the Nationals’ first-round pick in 2012, matched Harvey with a 92-95 mph fastball and backed it up with a low-80s changeup that projects to be an elite pitch. Giolito threw five innings of shutout ball, and ceded just two hits while striking out six.