It's a different world
finds himself in today.
The massive 6-foot-6, 210-pound all-American catcher out of Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.)
has a lot of time to sort through, a schedule to keep — on his own
— and no one hovering to remind him about studying.
It's what any typical college freshman athlete endures. The major difference is that Harvey should be enjoying his senior year at Germantown Academy, biding his time and working towards being drafted in next June's Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
What Harvey has done is quite rare, bypassing his senior year of high school to attend college early, and in doing so, bypassing the draft.
The course Harvey has chosen to take carries a refreshing tone, especially in this get-it-now, cash-in world of professional sports. He was projected to go in the first three rounds of the 2012 June draft, perhaps being offered as much as $1-to $1.5-million to sign. Instead, he's attending Vanderbilt on a baseball scholarship, projected to start in the rugged Southeastern Conference, perhaps the best college baseball conference in the country.
"It's something that I wanted to do for a while," Harvey said. "This gives me an extra year of college, it helps me become a more well-rounded person, and the academics had a lot to do with it. I always wanted to come to Vanderbilt, and to be honest, me and my family weren't really depending on what we were hearing [from Major League scouts and teams]. I think they basically all said what I wanted to hear.
"But the whole time me and my family knew this was the best thing for me. I get my degree and I play college baseball in what I think is the best conference in the country. The bottom line is I was being told a lot of things we found hard to believe."
Harvey has invested at least three years of education in what could be defined as taking one small step, to take three larger steps ahead toward his future.
The idea first came to Harvey last October. A number of players have already been drafted from Germantown Academy, and a number of players Harvey played with, and against, like Philadelphia Phillies 2010 first-round pick Jesse Biddle, made the choice to sign a Major League contract.
Harvey, who turned 18 on March 10, made the usual summer showcase rounds, playing in the East Coast Pro and the Area Code Games. He received exposure to Major League scouts, and them to him.
"Our position was we wanted Chris to go through this process and understand the Major League side of things," said Frank Harvey, Chris's father. "Chris was literally going to have the chance to play with 100-to-130 of the best high school players in the country. We wanted Chris to take his time and really think through what he wanted do to. There were things Chris wants to work on to place him in a better position.
"We also looked at catchers drafted out of high school and it's a rough road. We thought, if you can go to college, play in the SEC, you would have developed some things in college and more experience in calling games. We let Chris take his time, travel and make the call. Chris made his decision to attend Vanderbilt sometime during the spring. Going early was something they wanted to know."
Chris looked over everything and opted to make the move in the beginning of the summer. In the end, it wasn't a very hard choice to make. But he had some help from his siblings. Chris's older brother, Michael, is a wrestler at North Carolina. Michael suffered an injury that forced him to miss a season for the Tar Heels and it served as a lesson to Chris.
"It's why I looked to Michael, and my sister, Megan [former captain of Georgetown's swimming team] for advice," Chris said. "I could get hurt, and that's it, I'd have nothing. By making this choice, there is a good chance I'll have my degree by the time I get drafted. That was a big part of this move. I'll have that safety net, I'll have my education."
Josh Holliday, a Vanderbilt assistant coach who recruited Chris, and the brother of St. Louis Cardinals' outfielder Matt Holliday, admits the move Harvey made is unique, but something a student/athlete of Harvey's caliber could thrive from.
"Chris has fit in well with us," Holliday said. "The benefits of the move Chris made you have to take on a case-by-case basis. It's not for everyone, but it seems for Chris, it's been good. He's being asked to mature quickly, while working towards his college degree and in a very good conference. The considerable upside is that Chris has placed himself in a competitive developmental environment where he'll grow in numerous ways. He's invested in himself."
Chris Harvey has no regrets. He's been working out with the Commodores and he's learning to schedule his time, juggling baseball workouts and Vanderbilt's high academics. Chris has Holliday, who coached another large catcher, built quite a bit like himself, former Georgia Tech All-American catcher and current Baltimore Orioles player Matt Wieters. He'll also be better equipped and possibly better situated, it seems, when the draft process begins anew three years from now.
"The most ironic thing about the process is the restrictions and limitations placed on the college coaches, and how they do it honestly," Frank Harvey said. "The college guys are put under an enormous amount of scrutiny and the pro guys aren't. I told Chris he was being told by some of these scouts he's a first-round pick, but they're probably telling 200 other kids they're going to be first-round picks, too. We didn't want to discourage Chris in any way. We wanted to present both sides of the story and try to strike a balance. We liked the decision that Chris has made."