Well, neither Hunter Green nor Marco Gonzales were the guys for the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft. Marco Gonzales was taken with the 19th pick by the St. Louis Cardinals (so you know he’ll turn out to be a stud) while Hunter Green fell all the way to the 59th pick and the Los Angeles Angels. At pick #31, Frank Wren and company went with Jason Hursh, a right-handed pitcher out of Oklahoma State University.
Hursh has a big fastball that can sit in the mid-nineties, and he can amp it up to the upper nineties when he needs to/wants to. What really sets this pitch apart is that it still has good movement at that speed. It’s one of the best single pitch weapons in the draftm and has the potential to carry him to the top of a big-league rotation.
The things that will try and hold him back, however, are the lack of any really great secondary pitches, as well as a documented injury history—he’s already had Tommy John surgery.
With this pick, the Atlanta Braves have now selected a pitcher with their first overall pick for three years in a row.
The Pirates failed to sign four high school arms in 2010 who should go in the top five rounds of the 2013 draft. Hursh, a sixth-rounder out of a Texas high school, is the best prospect of that group, which also includes Austin Kubitza (seventh round, now at Rice), Dace Kime (eighth round, Louisville) and Kent Emanuel (19th, North Carolina). Hursh pitched just 30 innings as a freshman in 2011 and missed last season recovering from Tommy John surgery. His velocity returned last summer, when he hit 103 mph according to the (notoriously juiced) scoreboard at the National Baseball Congress World Series. He has continued to light up radar guns as a redshirt sophomore, throwing 92-98 mph and sitting in mid-90s with little effort. Add in heavy life and late tail on his fastball, and it’s one of the most devastating pitches in the draft. Hursh still is developing feel for his secondary pitches, as he flashes an average slider and a decent changeup. He can live off his fastball, but hitters will sit on it until he develops a reliable No. 2 offering. There are durability concerns due to his 6-foot-1, 197-pound frame and his medical history, though he has improved his delivery and arm action since getting hurt.
It’s good to see that he has improved his delivery after his injury—hopefully that can help him avoid more in the future.
This pick is a risky one, as a lot of things are going to have to go right for him to turn into a good major league starter. He’s going to have to develop a secondary pitch (and really have an above average third if he wants to be a top flight starter), he’s going to have to remain healthy, and he’s going to have to be able to handle a professional season.
Hursh didn’t begin throwing on a regular basis until his senior year of high school and also struggled near the end of this past collegiate season. This might have been one of the reasons he’s already had Tommy John surgery. Throwing that hard after basically jumping into the college grind probably took a huge toll on him physically.
However, if that actually was the reason he became injured, it means that if he is developed slowly, he could avoid future injuries. If it was simply not being accustomed to such a large workload, that should be easier to prevent than something like a mechanical flaw in his delivery.
It should be interesting to see how Hursh does when he joins the Braves organization, and we will be sure to keep an eye on him.
Also, be sure to stick around for continued Braves draft coverage.