Simply Baseball Notebook straight from the source April 2004

Kickin' it with Ken Harvey

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-photo by Sebastian Vannavong

Despite being of the organization's top prospects and posting solid numbers at Triple A Omaha, Ken Harvey found himself on the outside looking in when the Royals made their September call ups in 2002.  "I was pretty disappointed," Harvey said of the snub, "but I got a chance to go to the Arizona Fall League (AFL) and tried to prove myself there."

The former Nebraska Cornhusker did more than just prove himself in the AFL, he set league records for batting average (.479), slugging percentage (.752) and on-base percentage (.537) on his way to winning MVP honors.

A first team All American and Golden Spikes finalist in 1999 at the University of Nebraska, Harvey was selected by the Royals in the 5th round of the June draft.  He shot up the minor league ladder, posting impressive numbers along the way, and made his major league debut in September 2001, hitting .250 in 4 games.

It seemed to be a lock that he would spend at least part of the 2002 season in the big leagues, but it didn't happen.  While Harvey's numbers were solid at Omaha in 2002 (.277, 20 HR, 75 RBI), they were not up to the standard he had set in previous seasons.  His stock had dropped within the organization, which culminated with no call up that September.

Instead of sulking, he turned the negative experience in to a positive, "(It was) big time (motivation)," the 26-year-old said.  "I wanted to prove some people wrong and that's what I did."

Part of the reason for Harvey's dip in production may have been the tinkering he did with his batting stance, "(I used a stance) like (Jeff) Bagwell's, because there was no stride," he explained.  What ever the case maybe, Harvey seems to have his problems ironed out. "It's going well, I'd rather be here than anywhere else," Harvey commented during his rookie season.  "It's everything I'd thought it would it be and more."

Thanks in part to a solid rookie campaign from Harvey, the Royals became surprise contenders in the AL Central in 2003.  "I don't think anyone expected it to happen," the rookie said of the pennant race.  "I am very happy with the way things are going, and I am very excited being in my first year and being in the situation we are in."

On a less serious note, the Los Angelels native attended Beverly Hills High, but denied hanging out with the 90210 crowd. "I did go to Beverly Hills High, but (90210) wasn't filmed there," he laughed.

Harvey downplayed individual goals and awards, "I can't think about that stuff, if it happens, great, but as long as we win, I will be happy," he said.  Instead, he choses to focus on team success, "(I) just (want) to win a pennant, that's pretty much it."

Because of his 6-2, 240 lb. frame and success in the minor leagues, Harvey has drawn comparisons to White Sox' slugger Frank Thomas.  However, the portly firstbaseman bristled at the comparison, "I don't really listen to critics, I just try to be the best player I can be," he explained.  "If you try to pattern yourself after someone else, you are not being true to yourself."

-David Zingler

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Harvey's page @ Baseball-Almanac.com

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