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Mets strike last-minute deal with top pick

Mets strike last-minute deal with top pick

HOUSTON -- The Mets signed first-round pick Matt Harvey just minutes before the midnight ET deadline Monday. According to ESPN's Keith Law, Harvey, a right-handed pitcher, will receive a signing bonus of $2.525 million.

Harvey, 21, posted an 8-3 record and 3.09 ERA in 14 starts for the University of North Carolina this season, striking out 102 batters and walking 35 in 96 innings. He was 22-7 with a 3.73 ERA in 54 games (43 starts) over three years at Chapel Hill, ranking ninth in UNC history with 263 strikeouts and 10th with 22 wins.

In their scouting missions, the Mets clocked his fastball as high as 98 mph. Harvey sits in the mid 90s with the pitch, mixing in a mid-80s slider and a low-80s curve and changeup.

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Before Harvey committed to UNC, the Angels drafted him in the third round of the 2007 Draft. At the time, most Draft pundits rated him the top high school pitcher in the nation -- higher even than fellow UNC recruit and 2009 American League Rookie of the Year candidate Rick Porcello.

Knowing all that, the Mets were never worried about Harvey's abilities when deciding whether to select the New London, Conn., native in this year's Draft. Their main concern was Harvey's signability, with the notorious Scott Boras as his agent. Over their previous five Drafts, the Mets had gone significantly over Commissioner Bud Selig's slot recommendations to sign a player just once -- for Mike Pelfrey, a fellow Boras client with a similar college resume, back in 2005.

On the night they drafted Harvey and in the weeks leading up to Monday's signing deadline, the Mets continually said that they did not expect to ink their top pick until the final hours, minutes or even seconds.

"We've done a pretty good job in signing most of our players," general manager Omar Minaya said the night of the Draft. "And we are hopeful that we are going to be able to sign Matt Harvey to be a New York Met."

The Mets had no trouble signing any of their other top picks, locking up third-round selection Blake Forsythe and fourth-round pick Cory Vaughn in June, and fifth-round selection Matt Den Dekker in July. They lost their second-round pick due to last winter's free-agent acquisition of Jason Bay.

That success rate came in stark contrast to last year, when the Mets managed to sign only two of their top five picks in the Draft.

Forsythe, a catcher out of the University of Tennessee, has spent most of this summer with Class A Brooklyn after making his debut with the rookie league Gulf Coast Mets. Vaughn, the son of former All-Star Greg Vaughn, hit 12 home runs over his first 48 games with Brooklyn. And Den Dekker, a left-handed hitting outfielder out of the University of Florida, skipped straight from the Gulf Coast Mets to Class A Savannah of the Sally League, one level higher than Brooklyn.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Steve Gartner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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