Jason Hursh, RHP, Oklahoma State University
Redshirt sophomore (draft eligible for 2013)
Birthdate: 10/2/1991 Age at Draft: 21.60
University of Oklahoma ace Jonathan Gray is currently the focus of most pre-draft attention in the Oklahoma college ranks this spring. However, over at Stillwater, Oklahoma State University has an intriguing right-hander of their own in Jason Hursh. Hursh was generating early-round buzz with strong pitching early in the season, and I had an opportunity to see him in action against the Kansas Jayhawks here in Lawrence last Friday.
It wasn't a good game for him: he got knocked out in the fourth inning, giving up 10 hits, seven runs, and four walks. Nevertheless, the talent that interests pro scouts was quite evident. Despite the hiccup against the Jayhawks, Hursh has been effective more often than not this spring, with a 2.63 ERA and a 42/11 K/BB in 54 innings with 50 hits allowed. The game against KU was the first time all season he didn't pitch at least six innings.
Hursh is a well-built, well-proportioned right-hander with a loose, athletic frame, listed at 6-1, 197, though he looks an inch or so taller than that on the mound. He has been clocked as high as 98 MPH in summer ball, but Friday night he worked at 92-95 MPH, though with far more 94-95 readings than 92s. His fastball has unusually good action low in the strike zone, often tailing away from right-handed hitters and inside on lefties, though he'll try to work the outside corner against dangerous lefties at times. The fastball is seldom straight but he located it well early in the game.
The problem for Hursh: his secondary pitches. His change-up had tailing action like the fastball, though (of course) at lower, change-up velocity. His slider had some moments early but was inconsistent, I'd say ranging from major league average to below average. He threw a slower curveball while warming up but didn't use it much in the game.
His delivery is low-effort and is cleaner than what you see in the video from 2011. He is a Tommy John survivor, and has reportedly made a strong effort to improve his mechanics. In the first two innings, he repeated his delivery very well from pitch to pitch, but when he warmed up in the third inning he started to lose that consistency. By the fourth inning, he was telegraphing his pitches and the KU hitters weren't fooled. This was my impression from behind home plate anyway; it would be interesting to break that down with video from Friday's game and see if that impression was accurate.
In any event, Hursh has many positive attributes that will interest a major league team on draft day. He has a live body, a live arm, and a very impressive fastball with big-league movement and velocity. His secondary pitches are erratic, but promising. While he needs to get more consistent, his basic mechanics are essentially sound. With proper development, Hursh could be a highly-impressive reliever at least, and possibly a mid-rotation starter if his secondary pitches max out.
I can see him going as high as the third round, maybe even earlier if he looks strong in May.