PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- After one of Matt Harvey's particularly nasty curveballs, Ike Davis jumped backward and let out a whoop.
"If it was a two-strike count there," Davis said afterward, "I definitely would have been walking back to the bench."
It was nothing more than the first day of live batting practice at Mets camp, where pitchers throw glorified bullpen sessions to hitters who are free to -- but rarely do -- swing. Harvey, a top prospect and one of a half-dozen Minor League pitchers in big league camp, used the opportunity to show off his four-seam fastball, improved curveball and sinker.
He drew a crowd.
"Obviously, that's a pretty impressive looking pitcher," manager Terry Collins said. "We all know he can throw hard. Now it's a matter of dealing with the process, and that's getting better."
Barring something completely unforeseen, that process will not include an assignment to the Opening Day roster. Most likely, Harvey will begin the year back at Double-A alongside fellow prospects Jeurys Familia and Zack Wheeler, before working his way up to the Major Leagues by September. But that timeline has not stopped Harvey from approaching coaches on a regular basis, asking what he must do to make the club now.
"That's where I want to be," Harvey said. "I came to camp trying to make the team."
Collins considers that a positive sign from a player unusually determined to improve his abilities. Harvey, the seventh overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, considers it normal.
To achieve his goals, Harvey has worked hard on his curveball, a pitch that has all but replaced a slider in his arsenal. He has also worked on a two-seam fastball, which he hopes to utilize more often this season.
It was the curve that most impressed Harvey's onlookers Saturday, at a time when pitchers are not yet lighting up radar guns.
"The last one he threw to me started on my hip," catcher Josh Thole said. "I jumped out of the way and it was down the middle. You don't see that on an everyday basis."