Player: Jason Hursh
Drafted by: Atlanta Braves (No. 31 Overall)
DOB: 10/2/1991 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’1”/197 lbs
School: Oklahoma State
Previously Drafted: 2010, 6th round by Pittsburgh Pirates
After an impressive prep career, the hard-throwing Hursh came to Oklahoma State, but not before spurning an offer from the Pirates, who saw enough in the lanky high school senior to warrant a sixth-round selection. He made four starts as a freshman and showed incredible promise. Unfortunately, he had to undergo Tommy John surgery and was forced to miss the entire 2012 season.
He returned after a successful procedure to anchor the Cowboys staff and has looked 100 percent recovered. Not only has he put together an incredible season, but he's also shown little rust from missing more than a year. His pitches have been crisp and his command has been excellent, and his throwing mechanics appear to be smoother than before he had the surgery. He appears primed to go high in the draft.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
As mentioned above, Hursh's throwing mechanics improved greatly while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. While there's no way to prove it, the likely reason for the surgery was a high-effort delivery that he's since scrapped. Hursh is sturdily built and a decent athlete, but with velocity like his, it's always tempting to try to blow fastballs by hitters. He's resisted that urge so far, and as a result, his velocity has taken a dip. He's learned to concentrate more on getting more movement on his fastball, which has been a primary reason he's been so successful this season.
Pre-surgery, pitch sat 93-96 mph and touched 98; post-Tommy John, fastball sits 91-94 mph and reaches 96 but no higher; compensated for slight drop in velocity by adding even more movement to the offering; he can get the pitch to tail away from right-handed hitters and inside to lefties; command is still coming back, but much more impressive than expected considering the circumstances.
Inconsistent sums up Hursh's secondary pitches; slider shows most promise; sits in the 84-88 mph range; currently lacks the confidence to incorporate the pitch into his repertoire on a regular basis; with more use, it has potential to become an above-average offering; once he turns pro, first focus will be on deciding whether or not he needs to scrap slider for a curveball, which he's also thrown in the past.
Shows promise, but way too inconsistent a pitch right now; currently below-average offering; repeats his delivery well on the pitch; motion resembles that of his fastball; currently not enough difference in speeds to make the pitch usable; without development of both slider and change, Hursh is destined for a career in the bullpen.
Control is about as good as it's going to get; fastball command is above-average, even with added movement on the pitch; has decent control of secondary pitches, but neither is as sharp as it's going to have to be in order to pitch effectively at the upper levels of the minors; control and command of secondary pitches is vital to his development as a starter.
Command of all three offerings is spotty; is learning to command his fastball better, but still has a long way to go to make it an above-average offering; if he can rein the pitch in, his velocity should play up even more; slider and change lack any semblance of command.
MLB Player Comparison: Joe Kelly
Projection: No. 4 or 5 starter on a first-division team.
MLB ETA: 2016
Chances of Signing: 65%
Given that he's a draft-eligible sophomore, there's always a chance Hursh returns to Oklahoma State, although he's proven enough in most eyes with a strong 2013 campaign. However, he has the stuff to emerge as one of the top four or five college pitchers in next year's class, as opposed to the 10-15 range this year. Ultimately, he should sign.