11/23/2002 8:13 pm ET
Harvey MVP of Arizona Fall League
Royals prospect wins first-ever Joe Black Award
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz -- The Arizona Fall League would not reveal who won its first-ever Joe Black Most Valuable Player Award until an on-field presentation before Saturday's Championship Game.
Anyone who looked at the league's final stats, though, would not have been surprised to learn that Scottsdale's Ken Harvey was the
The Royals prospect put up eye-popping numbers, batting .479 with an on-base percentage of .537 and a slugging mark of .752. Harvey helped lead the Scottsdale club to the league's best overall record at 29-15 and a berth in the AFL Championship Game, which it lost 7-1 to Peoria.
"He had a tremendous Fall League -- right from the beginning this kid was on fire," Scottsdale manager, Al Pedrique said. "Everything that he hit has been hit hard. I didn't see too many bloop singles; everything was hard. Day in and day out, he was staying inside the ball well and he was seeing the ball real good. The one thing that got my attention is, as a young hitter, he was using the whole field. It's nice to see a kid make adjustments like he did."
Harvey, a first baseman, led the league in hits (56) and doubles, while hitting seven home runs and driving in 34 runs.
"I know that anyone could have gotten hot and had a great Fall League, it just happened to be me," Harvey said. "I'm really grateful for the award. Hopefully, I can have the same success as the other people who have played in this league and are in the big leagues."
Harvey spent the 2002 regular season with the Royals' Triple-A club in Omaha, Neb., where he batted .277 with 31 doubles, 20 homers and 75 RBIs. It was the first time he batted lower than .335 in his four-year professional career, but the 24-year-old called it his best all-around season.
"I know people think that's hard to say, because I've hit for a better average," Harvey said. "But I think mentally I had to battle through some tough times, so I think it was probably my most valuable season. It's a game of adjustments, and I made those this year so I think that was big for me."
The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder from Los Angeles appeared in four games for the Royals in 2001, going 3-for-12 with two RBIs.
"That's the biggest thing I've ever seen that didn't have an elevator in it," former big leaguer and Hall of Fame announcer Joe Garagiola Sr. quipped during the pre-game ceremonies.
The MVP award was named after former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Joe Black, who passed away this past season. Black was the National League's Rookie of the Year in 1952 and became the first African-American pitcher to win a World Series game that same season.
Black was well known throughout baseball and was a key member of the Baseball Assistance Team, which helps, among others, former ballplayers who are struggling.
Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf participated in the pregame ceremony and said he was there to honor Black.
"He was a very, very special guy," Reinsdorf said. "He touched a lot of people. It's amazing how many people I've run into who knew Joe and had
something done special for him."
Garagiola, a close friend of Black's, said it was fitting that the MVP of the Fall League, which is dedicated to player development, was named for his friend.
"His big interest was young people," Garagiola said. "He talked to them about baseball, but he also talked about life. He was a baseball guy, and he worried about the former players. He was such a compassionate man.
Steve Gilbert is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.