Ryan Harvey, taken by the Cubs, is the highest pick from Pinellas ever.
By JOHN C. COTEY
Published June 4, 2003
DUNEDIN - His fists came together right above his head, his elbows touching briefly and for a split second, his face - clenched in teeming joy - obscured.
Then in the moment he and his mother, Karen, will remember forever, Ryan Harvey wrapped all 6 feet 5 inches of his muscular frame around her, and together they cried. And cried. And with the family camcorder dangling from her right hand, cried some more.
Harvey's lifelong dream, and one his mother had just the night before, had come true. The Cubs were ready to make him a pro baseball player.
With the sixth pick in Tuesday's draft, Harvey, a Dunedin High star, became the highest drafted player in Pinellas County history, eclipsing another Falcon, Scott Hemond, who was picked No. 12 by Oakland in 1986.
In the bay area, only Dwight Gooden was drafted higher, going No. 5 to the Mets in 1982.
"I can't believe it," Harvey said. "It's amazing. It's amazing."
Harvey's selection set off a raucous celebration at home as girlfriend Nicole Levitt, teammate Joey Angelberger, former teammate Tyler Clippard, coaches Tom Hilbert and Dennis Duncan and several family members crammed into a back bedroom to listen to the draft on a borrowed laptop.
The Internet connection was lost after the third pick was announced, but family friend Bob Clippard frantically reconnected his Toshiba just seconds before the Cubs made the selection.
Minutes before, Harvey's father, Bill, said he secretly hoped the Cubs would pick his son. And Karen had a dream the night before that Chicago picked Ryan.
As for Harvey, he was just as thrilled, his face reddened by tears and smiling as he put a Cubs hat - provided by the Clippards, huge fans - on his head.
"I'm so excited and happy they picked me," Harvey said. "My adviser (David Sloane) told me they wanted me pretty bad."
The Cubs were one of many teams to work out Harvey, who had a meteoric rise up the draft charts after a strong summer. Even a torn ACL sustained in November didn't faze the opinion of scouts, and Harvey was even considered, at one point, to be a possible No. 1 pick.
"We just felt he was probably the best power hitter in the draft," Cubs scouting director John Stockstill said. "We liked Delmon Young as well. We don't think Delmon has quite as much power. Ryan has a lot of power and is a good player.
"Harvey is someone we feel it will take 4, 5, 6 years. But when he gets here, he'll be a good player. His upside is much better."
It's the second straight year the Cubs drafted a Dunedin player, and general manager Jim Hendry is a Dunedin grad. Last year, they took first baseman Brian Dopirak in the second round.
Harvey has a scholarship to Florida but is considered very signable. He is likely to receive a signing bonus of about $2-million and begin his pro career by the end of the month.
- Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.