Braves stock up on pitching with college arm Hursh

Braves stock up on pitching with college arm Hursh

Braves stock up on pitching with college arm Hursh

LOS ANGELES -- Looking to add to the supply of power arms already in their organization, the Braves took right-handed pitcher Jason Hursh with their first pick and the 31st overall selection in this year's First-Year Player Draft.

Hursh received a phone call on Wednesday from veteran scout Gerald Turner, who is credited with signing Andrelton Simmons and Evan Gattis. But he did not have any indication the Braves were going to select him until he saw the selection made during Thursday night's broadcast.

"I was just trying not to get myself too caught up with going too high," Hursh said via telephone less than an hour after he was selected.

The Braves lost their first-round selection when they signed B.J. Upton as a free agent. But by losing Michael Bourn via free agency, they received a compensation pick, which they used to select Hirsch.

With their only other selection on Thursday, the Braves took catcher Victor Caratini, a product of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy who played at Miami Dade Community College this year. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound backstop is the first catcher the Braves have taken in the second round since Brian McCann in 2002.

Day 2 of the Draft continues with Rounds 3-10, streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m. ET. And Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.

MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

While some teams might have shied away from Hursh as he struggled near the end of this past season at Oklahoma State, the Braves remained interested in the 6-foot-3, 195-pound hurler whose fastball has sat between 92-95 mph and occasionally touched 97 mph.

"We liked him as well as anybody," Braves scouting director Tony DeMacio said. "We knew the [Mark] Appels and those guys would go early. But we thought [Hursh] was a quality right-handed starter at the Major League level."

Some scouting reports have indicated Hursh needs to continue developing all of his secondary pitches. But the confident hurler, who considers Stephen Strasburg to be his favorite competitor, believes he will have no problem finding success with his curveball, changeup and slider.

"I've always had good secondary stuff," Hursh said. "Maybe I didn't get to throw it as much as I would have liked this past year."

This marks the third consecutive season the Braves have selected a pitcher with their first overall selection. Hursh joins Mike Minor (2009) and Sean Gilmartin as the three collegiate pitchers the Braves have selected over the course of the past five years.

The Astros took Stanford's Appel with the top overall selection and the Rockies selected the University of Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray with the third pick in this year's Draft. Hursh was the eighth collegiate pitcher selected.

After missing the 2012 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, Hursh went 6-5 with a 2.79 ERA in 16 starts with Oklahoma State this year. He recorded 86 strikeouts and issued 28 walks in 106 1/3 innings. His effort earned him second-team All-Big 12 honors.

"When the college pitchers started going, we didn't know what was going to happen," DeMacio said. "They were going off pretty fast. We had some concern that he might not be there. But he was."

When Hursh went to a showcase event after his junior year of high school, he had visions of playing shortstop for the rest of his life. But after showing off his arm that day, he was encouraged to begin pitching on a consistent basis during his senior year of high school. He found immediate success and earned a chance to play at Oklahoma State.

Hursh learned he needed to undergo Tommy John surgery while pitching in a collegiate summer league after his freshman season. Less than two years later, he found himself as the first player selected after the Draft's first round.

"A few years ago I would have never dreamed it would be possible," Hursh said. "But I worked hard."

Hursh was selected by the Pirates in the sixth round of the 2010 Draft. But he chose to attend Oklahoma State after finishing his career at Trinity Christian High School in Addison, Texas.

One of Hursh's high school graduation gifts provided him a chance to hunt at Chipper Jones' Double Dime Ranch in the southwestern part of Texas. As he spent some time speaking to Jones' father during that visit, he had no clue that, like Jones, he would one day be the Braves' first selection in a Draft.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.