"It's been pretty much a relief," Hursh said. "Today's been awesome, getting to sign the contract and everything and just knowing that it's done. It's a good feeling."
Hursh was selected in the sixth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft by the Pirates, but he chose to play college ball for Oklahoma State. When the Braves took Hursh in the back end of this year's first round, leaving Stillwater for the pros became a much more feasible option.
"I think the Braves kind of made it pretty easy when they picked me at 31, so I kind of had an idea that I wanted to go," Hursh said.
Braves scout Gerald Turner, who saw Hursh pitch as a high schooler in Carrollton, Texas, was able to watch the decision to play in college pay dividends as he kept tabs on the right-hander throughout his three-year collegiate career.
"His delivery's a lot cleaner right now," Turner said. "He was kind of a max-effort guy [in high school], didn't stay on line, elevated the ball. He got a lot of strikeouts in high school because he was a power guy, but they weren't quality strikes. He can paint it now -- he can throw it."
After sitting out the entire 2012 season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, Hursh rebounded to excel for the Cowboys in his redshirt sophomore season. In 16 starts, he finished with a 6-5 record and 86 strikeouts, second only to Oklahoma's Jonathon Gray, who was taken third overall in this year's Draft by the Rockies.
"I knew it was a second chance to come back and really prove that I could still pitch and everything," Hursh said. "It helped, sitting on the sideline kind of really made me develop my mental game more, having a strong mind about it and everything."
After throwing 106 1/3 innings during the college season this spring -- over 20 more than the next-closest Cowboy pitcher -- Hursh expected to throw 20-30 innings for Class A Rome, making a few appearances out of the bullpen before returning to a starting role.
"I leave tomorrow morning, don't waste any time," Hursh said. "I'm ready to get started."