Attached is a story forwarded from a former Capitol Avenue Club writer and current beat writer for The Augusta Chronicle, David Lee. David covers the Augusta GreenJackets, who were hosting Jason Hursh and the Rome Braves earlier this week. He had the opportunity to speak with Jason about his experiences since being drafted and the adjustments he has needed to make as he transitioned into a professional baseball player. You can follow David on twitter @David11Lee. Let's all thank David for sharing this story with us and allowing us to post it on Talking Chop.
Watch Jason Hursh throw a fastball and it comes as no surprise that he once listed Stephen Strasburg as his favorite athlete on a college website bio.
Comparing the Atlanta Braves’ 2013 first-round pick to Strasburg may be a bit lofty, but Hursh’s fastball is on its way to being a force in professional baseball.
Hursh’s quick arm produces a fastball that touches the upper-90s while sitting mid-90s with heavy movement and little effort. Baseball America called it "one of the most devastating pitches in the draft."
Similar to Braves 2012 first-rounder Lucas Sims but with a little more velocity, Hursh’s power arm can rely on fastballs in the lower levels to be successful. Getting through an upper-level lineup multiple times is a different task.
Hursh and Braves management feel he has the mix to work through a major league lineup more than once.
"That’s one of the biggest things I’ve felt since I got here was throwing more off-speed was something I needed to do, really developing my changeup and curveball and just becoming the complete package," Hursh said. "It’s been fun having hitters off-balance with your off-speed and making your fastball that much better."
After drafting Hursh out of Oklahoma State with the 31st pick on June 6, Braves scouting director Tony DeMacio raved about Hursh’s secondaries, including calling his changeup a plus pitch. Hursh also throws a curveball and slider, both of which he said are developing well.
The right-handed Hursh has made five starts for the Rome Braves since signing, although the Braves haven’t left him on the mound for more than 3 .1 innings in any start. He has yet to allow a run while giving up five hits in 13 innings, walking seven and striking out 13.
Hursh said the Rome coaching staff has left him to pitch with little instruction so far, likely giving management a chance to watch its $1.7 million investment face pro hitting for the first time before any possible tinkering begins.
"Right now, it’s not too many mechanical adjustments as of yet," he said. "I’m sure they’ve seen some stuff that they think could help me, but I think right now it’s just going out there and just getting my innings and everything, see me pitch and see if there’s anything I’m doing wrong and they’ll tell me down the road."
Hursh, who had a 2.79 ERA in 106.1 innings in his sophomore season for the Cowboys in 2013, said life as a minor leaguer has been a positive experience so far, and starting at Rome has been a plus for him.
"People always talk about the coaching staff and the great guys (in Rome)," he said. "When I first got there, everything was like they said; great facility, great staff, they take care of you. So it’s been awesome."
No doubt a major plus for the Braves in picking Hursh was his makeup and work ethic. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012, put in his time with rehab and returned stronger. Hursh said the time away from the mound gave him a chance to see the game in a different way.
"Of course, it stinks at first, but I just looked at it as a second opportunity to come back stronger and better," he said. "Sitting out lets you look at the game from a mental aspect, really learn more about the mental side of pitching, and I took the opportunity to do that. I did the rehab and throwing program, and just took it to heart. I got after it and came back stronger. It was a blessing in disguise."
The Braves and their fans will track Hursh and fellow first-rounder Sims with hopes that they reach their lofty ceilings. Hursh said he feels comfortable in the Braves system, an important first step toward that ceiling.
"I was really excited to go to the Braves. It’s been a good time so far."