Top prospect Matt Harvey to make Mets debut Thursday

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By finally ditching Miguel Batista the Mets have cleared the path for Matt Harvey to make his big-league debut and the 23-year-old top prospect will be called up to start Thursday versus the Diamondbacks.

Harvey, who was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 draft out of the University of North Carolina, actually struggled in his last Triple-A start by allowing six runs in five innings.

Overall, however, he has a 3.68 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 110 innings at Triple-A while holding opponents to a .233 batting average. Harvey’s control is a potential issue, as the hard-throwing right-hander walked 48 and uncorked nine wild pitches in 110 innings, but then again he’s replacing a guy in Batista who walked 31 in 47 innings.

Injuries to Johan Santana and Dillon Gee sped up Harvey’s timetable, but after 20 starts at Triple-A he was getting close to being MLB-ready anyway. Baseball America‘s midseason rankings update had Harvey as the 34th-best prospect in baseball, while ESPN.com’s midseason update rated him 30th.

Red Sox to extend protective netting at Fenway Park in 2018

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The Red Sox are the latest team to extend the protective netting at their ballpark this winter. According to a statement by club president Sam Kennedy, the exact dimensions of the netting have yet to be determined, but it will likely stretch “all the way to Field Box 79, down the left field line and then all the way down to almost Canvas Alley in the Field Box 9 area.”

Fenway Park received additional protective netting prior to the 2016 season, when the netting behind home plate was lengthened to the home and visitor dugouts. Per Kennedy’s statement, the current expansion should cover everything but the outfield corners, making it nearly impossible for a line drive foul to reach fans in the lower boxes.

After a toddler sustained serious injuries from a 105-MPH foul ball to the face at Yankee Stadium last September, over half of all MLB teams decided to take more extreme preventative measures in advance of the 2018 season. The Brewers, Cardinals, Braves, Astros, Royals, Pirates, Rangers, Padres, Nationals, Mariners, Phillies, Mets, Reds, Blue Jays, Giants, Yankees, Twins and Indians are among the organizations to address the issue over the last several years, while others have yet to take significant action.