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.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.