So much for the New York Mets taking the best player available in the 2010 draft. So much for them taking a collegiate bat.

The Mets passed on Chris Sale, Zack Cox, Josh Sale, Deck McGwire, and Michael Choice in favor of Matt Harvey, a 6’4″ right-handed pitcher out of UNC.

The Mets had the coin to spend on a guy over their slot, so it seems odd that they went with a pitcher who wasn’t universally expected to go inside the top half of the first round.

Harvey was taken in the third round by the Angels in 2007, but he has developed so much since then. He is the ace of the staff and a legitimate innings eater for the Tar Heels down at Chapel Hill. Still, this isn’t 2007 when he was Baseball America’s top high school prospect at Fitch.

He threw 96 innings in 2010, compiling an 8-3 record with an ERA slightly above 3.00. More impressive is Harvey’s near 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, having logged 102 Ks and just 35 walks. That’s pretty good over 14 starts when you add in the fact that he throws a sinking fastball that routinely hits 94MPH.

Harvey reportedly has a sweeping slider and a plus changeup, and he is close to incorporating a curveball to give him a nice four-pitch selection. He hasn’t thrown it for a few years though, and even when it was his primary out pitch in high school, it wasn’t that great.

He’s another 21-year-old who measures in at more than 200 pounds (6’4”, 225 pounds) and his durability and ability to maintain the velocity on his mid-90s fastball late into games had him rising back into the minds of teams looking for a pitcher in the first round.

He has lowered his ERA by two full runs this season, being used exclusively out of the rotation while cutting back on his walks and logging more innings than ever before.

Alex Nelson of Amazin’ Avenue reports a 65 percent ground ball rate based on his heavy fastball, but says Harvey occasionally throws the ball across his body and has some control issues. Still, with those elite rates, expect a short stint in the Minors before a fast track to the Big Show.

His control will be the key to his success in the Minor Leagues, and he will need to work out a few kinks in his delivery if he is to prove that his low walk totals in 2009 really were legit. He averaged five walks per nine innings in ’09 and 6.3 in 2008.

He received All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball in his freshman year two seasons ago in 2008, when he held batters to a stingy .214 batting average and won the most games (seven) by any UNC rookie since 2004.

As a sophomore in 2009 he went 7-2 in 21 appearances (13 starts) and made a pair of starts in the NCAA Tournament, according to

I rated him as the No. 3 pitcher likely to make a quick and successful move to the majors, which you can read about here, but while it’s very much a safe choice, I can’t help but think it could have been a little stronger.

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