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May 11, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Ackley, Seager pleased by success of Mets phenom Matt Harvey, their former college teammate

Photo by Associated Press

Photo by Associated Press

Matt Harvey, the Mets’ 24-year-old phenom, has been the talk of baseball this year with his 4-0 record, 1.28 ERA, and near perfect game last week. Throw in the New York hype machine, and it’s no wonder he’s exploding on the MLB scene.

Watching intently, and with pride, are Mariners infielders Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager, who were Harvey’s teammates for their final two seasons at the University of North Carolina. Seager, in fact, roomed with Harvey his last year at UNC in a house with a few other players.

“He was always a guy, even in college, you knew he was going to do good things,” Seager said. “He has the stuff, the body, the mentality. He’s got everything you’re looking for from a pitcher.”

Agreed Ackley, “He had every tool to be a star. In college, he wasn’t quite the pitcher he is now. He had all the stuff. He threw hard. One thing he didn’t have in college he has now that seems like his best pitch is the slider. I don’t think he quite developed that when I was there. I think a pitch like that for him, he throws it 88 to 90 mph, is pretty devastating. I think all of his teammate knew he was going to be pretty special.”

Ackley said it hasn’t been hard monitoring Harvey’s progress.

“I’ve been keeping up on him because, I mean, he’s been all over the TV,” he said with a laugh. “I’m happy for him. He deserves it. He works hard. He’s in the weight room all the time, a real athletic kid. He’s going to be great.”

Ackley, Seager and Harvey were teammates on the 2008 and 2009 Tar Heels teams. Ackley and Seager were drafted by the Mariners in 2009, Ackley No. 2 overall in the first round, Seager in the third round.  Harvey played one more year in college and was selected in the first round in 2010 (No. 7 overall) by the Mets.

It’s amazing to look back at the talent from that UNC era — besides those three, there’s pitchers Alex White (Astros) and Adam Warren (Yankees), and catcher Tim Federowicz (Dodgers), as well as numerous players in the minors, such as reliever Brian Moran in the Mariner organization.

“It’s hard to keep up with all of them, there’s so many,” said Ackley.

“We had some really good squads,” Seager added. “You look back at guys not only in pro ball, but in the big leagues, there’s a lot of guys. There’s a lot of guys in the upper minors who are right there. It’s pretty cool just the family of it all. A lot of teams have a North Carolina guy, so it’s pretty cool to keep up with everybody.”

One regret is that those Tar Heels squads didn’t win a title. They made it to the College World Series in all three seasons with Ackley and Seager, but finished second (losing the title game to Oregon State), third and sixth, respectively.

“We never won it, but we had a great time,” Ackley said.

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