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Mets prospect Harvey saves Futures Game

U.S. Futures All-Star Matt Harvey of the New

U.S. Futures All-Star Matt Harvey of the New York Mets throws a pitch during the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field on in Phoenix. (July 10, 2011) Credit: Getty

PHOENIX -- He was one of the newbies here, so Matt Harvey kept quiet and accepted his Futures Game assignment: He was the floater, the guy assigned to relieve a pitcher who got into trouble.

But the day went rather smoothly, so Harvey wound up with a higher-profile role. He picked up the last out of the game for the save in the U.S. Team's 6-4 victory over the World Team at Chase Field, covering first on a 3-1 play to retire Padres prospect Raymond Fuentes.

"It was different," Harvey said. "I'm not used to pitching in relief. I had to get ready faster."

Harvey, 22, the Mets' first-round pick in the 2010 draft, was one of only three first-year professionals, along with Washington outfielder Bryce Harper and Cleveland pitcher Drew Pomeranz, to earn the honor. He's getting ready for the majors quickly enough, although he has hit a recent speed bump.

Because he signed with the Mets last Aug. 16, so late in the season, the Mets opted to limit him to bullpen sessions. So he began his professional career this season with Class A St. Lucie and impressed, going 8-2 with a 2.37 ERA, striking out 92 and walking 24 in 76 innings.

His promotion to Double-A Binghamton has been considerably more difficult. He has a 9.24 ERA in three starts, totaling 122/3 innings. Nevertheless, his strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 14:4 is very encouraging.

The main problem, he said, has been falling behind hitters. He's hopeful that a recent bullpen session will change his fortunes.

"I know in college, I could get behind and still be a successful pitcher," Harvey said. "I'm learning quickly that you can't do that at this level. Getting ahead, strike one, whether it be off speed, fastball, a ball down [is crucial]."

Given his age and his stuff -- a mid-90s fastball and power curveball -- Harvey could be ready to help the Mets as early as next season. He'll arrive with significant expectations.

He met U.S. Team manager Mike Piazza briefly during spring training, and he wanted to pick Piazza's brain about playing in New York. As it turned out, Piazza offered Harvey some cursory advice about pitching, but there wasn't time for a longer conversation.

Asked by Newsday what he would tell Harvey, Piazza said: "Well, I think, my biggest advice would just be to be yourself. New York City is so unique unto itself, you have to kind of take it, stick to your routine, your schedule. Understand that there is a lot of media there. They have jobs to do, but you have a job to do as well. They'll respect your schedule as long as you respect theirs.

"As far as the team and the fans, the fans are great. They'll love you forever if you play hard . . . They're very honest. There's not a lot of ambiguity there."

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