[Interview] Joe Harvey working on off-speed pitches this winter

Yankees prospect Joe Harvey, spent his 2018 season with the Trenton Thunder and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders whre he made a name for himself in the bullpen.  In 43 total games this past season he went 3-2 with a 1.67 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innnings pitched.  We had the chance to talk to him a few days ago.

Austin Petolillo: Talk about growing up in this (Philadelphia) area, I’m sure you grew up as a Phillies fan and grew up during that run from 2007-2011, what was that like as a high schooler?

Joe Harvey: “I was raised a diehard Phillie fan, used to attend Eagles games before I could even remember because my dad has season tickets, used to attend as many Phillies games as I could get to outside of baseball, but it was incredible because I was 15-16-17 when that was going on, I was a junior in high school when they won the World Series in 2008, I actually got to go to Game 3 so when you’re growing up with that kind of baseball, it makes it really enjoyable to get into the game, especially at a young age.”

AP: So I imagine sharing a clubhouse with other guys such as Billy (Fleming) and Tommy (Khanle) must have been fun this year, right?

JH: “Yeah, even earlier in the year with Erik Kratz who is also a local guy, it was a lot of fun, and you know Eagles fans are sometimes a little tough but it’s always a lot more fun when you got more guys that are rooting for the same team around you.”

AP: Out of those guys, who do you think is the biggest fan?

JH: “Probably Tommy, Tommy is pretty crazy, for people that don’t know Tommy, he’s the kindest, nicest dude in the world but he’s definitely got a little crazy in him, he’s just a crazed fan but he’s the best.”

AP: Have you seen his jersey collection?

JH: “Oh yeah, I talk to him every Sunday, he’s been texting me, calling me, talking about what’s going on in the game and I’ve seen his jersey collection and all the stuff he’s got.”

AP: I think you were only there for five games this season but when you were in Trenton, did you have a lot of family and friends come out to see you because I know it’s a short trip on the turnpike.

JH: “First couple games I had a bunch of people there coming up to watch me because they never really had the opportunity because I was hurt for a while and I was in Tampa but even in Scranton and when we play Lehigh, anywhere close I have a lot of support.”

AP: We’re about a month into the offseason, how is it going for you so far?

JH: “Pretty good, just really enjoy being home, getting back to working out and back into the groove of things so I start throwing pretty soon, just trying to keep it going and pick up where I left off.”

AP: Do you have anything planned for this offseason?

JH: “I’m going to go to winter-ball for a couple weeks and play in the Dominican until right before Christmas, play from about middle of November until Christmas then come back and then if we make the playoffs go back there and then come back home and got about two months until Spring Training and then do the whole thing over again.”

AP: Is there anything that you’re trying to focus on working on this offseason?

JH: “I’m trying to get more consistent with my off-speed pitches, very confident in my ability to get people out but if there’s one thing you need to get into the big leagues, it’s a consistent breaking ball so I’m really just trying to work on that.”

AP: Aside from the 2015 season in Charleston, your ERA has never dipped below two to end the season, it’s always been sub-2.00, how hard is it to keep your ERA so low on a consistent basis?

JH: “I really don’t know honestly, I don’t check my stats until the season’s over, sometimes people say to me ‘hey you’re doing pretty well’ but after the game I’m not checking if it was earned or not, if I pitch well, I know I’m pitching well and vice versa.”

AP: So when you go into pitch you don’t think about any numbers?

JH: “I don’t think I’ve ever thought about a number since I first got drafted, I felt like when I got drafted I had to have good numbers and do this-this and this, and then after I got hurt to be honest with you I was just kind of like screw it, I got one more shot at this so if I’m worried about the numbers, it’s taking away from the pitch by pitch mentality so I don’t pull up my page or anything or look at numbers until the end of the year.”

AP: You just killed it in Scranton this year, 1.66 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, held opposing hitters to a .174 BA, do you ever think about how close you are to the show?

JH: “Yeah I would say so, there was definitely a point towards the end of the season where as a player, you’re aware of situations and September call-ups and stuff like that, there were some guys on my team that were starters getting moved to the bullpen, I knew I was pitching well so I thought maybe this is going to be a competition so you try to up your game a little bit and do as well as you can and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”

AP: I know it’s early, what are your expectations heading into next year?

JH: “Obviously making the big leagues is one of them, but in the offseason, one of the goals is to develop and show I can throw a consistent breaking ball, I have confidence in it now but just to show other people that have confidence in it, but other than that, I can’t pick many more things I’m trying to check-off besides getting to the big leagues and staying there but one has to come before the other.”