February 26, 2014
Perfect Game Presents
Before They Were Pros: NL East
AL West | AL Central | AL East | NL West | NL Central
As part of Perfect Game's partnership with Baseball Prospectus, David Rawnsley, Todd Gold and Patrick Ebert will be conducting a “Before They Were Pros” series, providing scouting reports on some of the top prospects in baseball from when they were in high school attending PG events. This six-part series (one for each division in MLB) will appear once Baseball Prospectus has provided their own detailed scouting reports of the top prospects, team-by-team, as part of their “Prospects Will Break Your Heart” series.
We continue by looking at select top prospects from National League East teams. Be sure to read Baseball Prospectus' features on each of these five teams:
Marlins | Phillies | Mets | Nationals | Braves
Andrew Heaney – LHP
Heaney participated in four Perfect Game tournament events while in high school, three of those with the powerful Texas Sun Devils program. A 6-foot-1, 150-pound athlete, Heaney worked in the mid-to-upper-80s back then with good feel for both a sharp overhand curveball as well as a changeup. Although it wasn't expected that he would ever be a flamethrower, it was evident that he had plenty of room to fill out, and as a result it was expected that one day he would be throwing consistently in the low-90s peaking several ticks higher.
Although he was drafted in the 24th round in the 2009 draft by the Rays out of high school, Heaney decided to honor his commitment to Oklahoma State where the transformation of his size and stuff occurred. Adding 25 pounds to his frame, by the end of his sophomore season he routinely sat in the 90-94 range early in games with his usual sharp curveball. Prior to assuming the Cowboys' Friday ace role during his junior season, he did alternate between a starting and relief role, but showed to have the requisite three-pitch repertoire to remain in a starting spot long-term. In addition, his command and advanced sense for changing speeds really stood out, even at a young age, and his stuff was sharp enough for him to avoid the “finesse lefty” label.
Here's part of his PG Draft Focus report leading up to the 2012 draft:
Heaney has always had quality stuff for a lefthander, but it wasn’t until he settled in as a regular starter that he displayed much-improved command of his lively 90-94 mph fastball, sharp curve and changeup. With his advanced feel for pitching, scouts say that he could become one of the first players from the 2012 draft class to reach the big leagues … He also is adept at mixing his pitches, and has an advanced feel for generating cutting action on his fastball, varying the speed on his breaking stuff and creating tumbling action on his change … Heaney is viewed as a safe college lefty with solid stuff and competitiveness, and is the kind of pitcher that rarely slides very far in the draft. —Patrick Ebert
Jake Marisnick – OF
Marisnick was considered one of the best athletes in the 2009 class as a graceful 6-foot-4, 200-pound outfielder with plus speed and big power potential. He was already considered an above average defensive player in the outfield, with center field range and a right field throwing arm. Perhaps not surprisingly in retrospect, scouts considered Marisnick’s least advanced tool to be his bat/hit tool.
Also not surprisingly for his type of athleticism, Marisnick was a two-sport star his first three years in high school before giving up football as a senior to concentrate on baseball. He caught 56 passes as a junior for 866 years and also excelled at safety, making 62 tackles and intercepting four passes. Marisnick signed to play baseball at Oregon but was also extended an invitation to walk on for the Oregon football team, and would undoubtedly have been able to play Division I football if he had continued on that path.
Marisnick was a steady performer on the baseball field at Riverside Poly High School, hitting in the low .400s each of his final three years, including .404-6-31 with 22 stolen bases as a senior. Perhaps as a precursor to his professional hitting numbers—he has 119 walks in 1,600 plus minor-league plate appearances—Marisnick didn’t walk much in high school either despite his top prospect status, drawing 35 walks versus 48 strikeouts in 376 high-school plate appearances.
Interestingly, Marisnick participated in two WWBA events, the 2007 17u WWBA National Championship and the 2008 WWBA World Championship, with teams from the East Coast, playing for the Mid-Atlantic Rookies and the Orioles Scout Team respectively.
Here are some of the notes in the PG database the 2008 Area Code Games:
+ build, + projection, very easy athletic actions, + RF arm, hitter's hands, very good bat speed, good looking swing, hit bomb off CF wall, swing can get long. Wouldn't be surprised if he's a 1st rounder.
For those who follow agent/advisor dealings, Marisnick was probably the easiest sell ever. His mother, Jennifer, is the Senior Director of Marketing for Larry Reynolds at Reynolds Sports Management. Marisnick signed for a $1 million signing bonus after being selected in the third round (104thoverall pick) of the 2009 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. —David Rawnsley
Anthony DeSclafani – RHP
In high school, Anthony DeSclafani was a long and lean 6-foot-3, 175-pound right-hander from New Jersey with a very long and loose arm action and easy release that was very easy to project. He pitched in numerous WWBA tournaments in 2007-2008 for the South Florida Bandits and the Tri-State Arsenal and was a regular on the 2007 summer showcase circuit, including throwing at the 2007 Perfect Game National Showcase. His report from that event read:
He has a slender, young build and hasn't started to get strong yet. DeSclafani has a low effort delivery and very long and loose whippy arm action and an extended mid 3/4's release point. He threw a 4 seam fastball that topped out at 92 mph and a 2-seamer that had nice sink and run at 87 mph and was able to throw both pitches to spots low in the zone. With his loose and easy arm, DeSclafani projects more velocity in the future. His slider and change up are still in the developing stages. Like many pitchers with similar arm actions/release points, getting a feel for a breaking ball is difficult and DeSclafani's slider is soft with an early break. With his easy delivery, long arm action and lack of off speed pitches, he lacks deception right now.
DeSclafani would flash a better breaking ball at times for scouts but didn’t develop any consistency with it during high school and was a primary fastball pitcher. When his fastball stayed in the 88-92 mph range as a senior, the Red Sox made him a 22ndround draft pick in 2008 before DeSclafani headed south to attend Florida.
The Gators used DeScafani as a starter early in his career in Gainesville but realized eventually that with one plus pitch that he had outstanding command of, the now low to mid-90s sinking fastball, that DeSclafani had more value in the bullpen than in the starting rotation. He went 5-3, 4.33 with six saves as a junior in 2011, striking out 39 hitters in 43 innings and only issuing three walks, leading to him being selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the sixth round of the draft that year. He was part of the huge salary dump trade with the Marlins that sent Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle and Josh Johnson to Toronto in November, 2012.
DeSclafani has been a starter since the signed professionally, and according to the Baseball Prospectus scouting reports, the Blue Jays and Marlins development staffs have been able to finally coax at least a MLB average slider and an improved changeup out of the long-arming right-hander. —David Rawnsley
Jesse Biddle – LHP
Much of the evaluation of Jesse Biddle from his high school days has remained true to form, almost as if the Phillies have let him develop in his own vacuum. That is not necessarily a bad thing.
Biddle, who grew up and went to high school at Germantown Friends Academy, a Quaker institution in suburban Philadelphia, had a very symmetrical development curve as a teenager. He first started throwing at WWBA events for the Philadelphia Senators team coming out of his freshman year in 2007 and generally topped out at 83-84 mph with a big mid-60s curveball at that age. His arm action was long and loose, with some cross-body action at release that was noted from his first scouting reports and has remained with him since. He gradually bumped that up to the 87-88 mph range coming off his sophomore season and was up to 89-92 during the summer before his senior year. What really garnered him attention, and his eventual first-round status (27th overall) for his hometown Phillies, was topping out at 94-95 mph during the spring of his senior year.
He has taken pretty much the same development path since signing as well, with the slight downtick in velocity as a professional due to the workload of pitching every fifth day.
A couple of things have always stood out about Biddle from the beginning of his time on the national stage, starting with the Perfect Game National Showcase in 2009:
• His curveball has always been a big and deep, but a relatively slow pitch, topping out at 71-73 mph in high school. It’s not a power pitch, but it is one that he commands effectively and its size and plane make it hard to square up.
• It has always seemed to this scout that Biddle’s arm action is highly conducive to a slider or a cutter but that hasn’t happened yet. My notes have frequently made mention of that potential and a comp with the recently retired Andy Pettitte. It wouldn’t be surprising if Biddle eventually developed a Pettitte-type cutter.
• The other thing that Biddle has consistently done is induce swing-and-miss tendencies in hitters without an obvious swing-and-miss pitch. Hitters at elite events in high school swung through far too many 88-89-mph fastballs to not know as a scout that there was some serious deception happening, even though it wasn’t readily obvious where it was coming from. The same thing has happened at the professional level as well.
• Biddle has always drawn very positive comments from scouts and coaches for his quiet confidence and positive mature makeup. That seems to still be the case today. —David Rawnsley
New York Mets
Kevin Plawecki – C
Plawecki played in a pair of WWBA National Championships in consecutive years for the Indiana Dirtbags while in high school, starting with the 16u in 2007 and following with the 17u in 2008. Although his power potential was evident, hitting a towering home run to the pull-side at the 17u event, his catching skills were considered to be well ahead of his bat.
Here is a collection of scouting notes from those two events:
Tall athletic frame … quick footwork and release, 2.04, 2.07, 2.09 (Pop times), good catch and release, throws easy, good soft receiver … easy swing, long bomb down LF line, hustles, hands inside ball, balanced, nice stick.
At Purdue he grew from 5-foot-11, 165-pounds to 6-foot-1, 215-pounds while in college, and not only did he consistently tap into his considerable power potential more often, but he also matured into a vocal team leader behind the plate.
Here's his PG scouting report prior to the 2012 MLB Draft:
When Plawecki enrolled at Purdue, he was considered a defensive-minded catcher with the potential to develop into a middle-of-the-order run producer. His bat definitely has stepped forward as he now has a very sound approach to hitting, and the ability to consistently square up balls and drive them to the gaps. His power continues to emerge in concert with his improvement as a hitter … He shows good lateral movement and improving blocking skills, and his quick release overcomes the lack of ideal arm strength for the position.
It should be noted that Plawecki was part of a very promising draft class during his junior year at Purdue that included third baseman Cameron Perkins (sixth round, Phillies) and right-hander Nick Wittgren (ninth round, Marlins), and is further proof of the increased talent coming out of the Indiana high school and college ranks in recent years. —Patrick Ebert
Brandon Nimmo – OF
As has been well documented, Brandon Nimmo has one of the most unusual backgrounds of any top prospect in baseball.
He grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a state that doesn’t have high school baseball. He played for American Legion Post 6, a regionally prominent program, hitting .448-16-84 with 34 stolen bases in 70 games during the spring and summer of 2010. And while Nimmo did have short appearances on the national stage, including the 2010 Tournament of Stars and a four-day team-funded spring break trip to Arizona in 2011, scouts had to primarily travel to Wyoming and South Dakota to see and evaluate Nimmo. It was the first time that many of those road warriors had ever been to one or either of those states.
Despite those obstacles, Nimmo was selected with the 13th overall pick in the 2011 draft and signed for a $2.1 million bonus. He became the highest Wyoming high school age player ever drafted, easily surpassing right-hander Michael Beaver, who was the Phillies sixth round pick back in 1966.
(The University of Wyoming, which no longer has a baseball team, produced fourth round outfielder Bill Ewing in 1976.)
Nimmo’s sweet left-handed swing, his combination of power and speed and his projected ability to stay in center field all contributed to his being evaluated as a first rounder by many teams in addition to the Mets. This occurred despite the nagging reality that he had never faced quality competition over an extended length of time, or had rarely been evaluated against that level. Nimmo also had an injury background, having torn his ACL before giving up football in 2009, which didn’t keep him from winning the state 400 meter championship as a senior at 51.45 seconds.
Mets Vice President of Player Development and Scouting Paul DePodesta said in an MLB.com article after the 2011 draft, “This certainly isn’t without risk. But as we went into this, to be quite frank with you, we weren't that interested in making what we thought was the safest pick. We were interested in making the pick that we thought had the chance to make the most impact."
Hindsight is always 20/20 of course, and Nimmo still has plenty of time to develop into an impact Major League outfielder. However, the Florida Marlins picked immediately after the Mets in 2011 and selected another high school player with a high perceived risk level due to his unusual background, Jose Fernandez. —David Rawnsley
Lucas Giolito – RHP
Lucas Giolito’s Hollywood background, prodigious talent and his frustrating and ill-timed elbow injury have combined to make him perhaps the highest profile high school pitching prospect of the last decade.
He is the son of long-time television actress Lindsey Frost and video game executive (EA, Trilogy Studios) Rick Giolito and comes from an extended Hollywood family. Although he was very young for the 2012 class and could have easily been a 2013 based his birthdate—he is two months older than Kohl Stewart and three weeks younger than Trey Ball, the first two high school pitchers selected in the 2013 draft—Giolito grew to his present 6-foot-6, 230-pounds early and never experienced any young oversized awkwardness athletically.
Giolito made his first appearance on the national stage at the 2010 Area Code Games shortly before the beginning of his junior year at Harvard-Westlake High School. As one of the few underclassman in Long Beach, he wowed the scouts, topping out at 96 mph with a 78 mph curveball. The Perfect Game notes from that event reflected that:
++ build for age, could be a 2013 with his B/D, slow paced delivery, hand drop set, long loose arm, warms up at 91-93, + fast arm, limited feel for off speed, CB spin not tight, not wild but not throwing to spots, very young but very, very good.
Giolito didn’t really gain much velocity over the next year, not that he really needed to. He couldn’t attend the Perfect Game National Showcase due to a prior commitment, but threw at the PG Sunshine West Showcase the previous week and also pitched at the 17u WWBA National Championship for the San Gabriel Valley (SGV) Arsenal, the Area Code Games again and topped off his summer by hitting 97 mph at the Perfect Game All-American Classic, starting the game for the West squad.
The big difference in Giolito’s stuff, though, was the development of his curveball. It went from a mid- to upper-70s pitch with limited feel to an 82-84 mph hammer with plus/plus potential. Part of my notes from the 2011 Area Code Games read:
Throws + easy, for all his velo CB is potentially a better pitch, scouts rave on CB, Young approach but #1/#1 talent.
The intrigue continued to grow for Giolito’s senior season. First, fellow PG All-American SoCal top prospect Max Fried decided to join Giolito at Harvard-Westlake after his previous high school discontinued their baseball program, giving the school perhaps the best pitching duo in the history of high school baseball. Fried would end up being the seventh overall selection by the Padres in the 2012 draft.
Secondly, the bump in velocity that most scouts had been expecting from Giolito happened, as he was clocked at 100 mph in pre-season scrimmages by numerous scouts. With no obvious no. 1 pick already established for the 2012 draft, there was already talk that Giolito could become the first high school righthander ever selected first overall. He certainly seemed worthy of it.
Of course, everything unraveled quickly from there, as Giolito sprained his ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in another scrimmage and missed the entire spring while rehabbing the injury. He was the big wild card in the 2012 draft that saw Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton go nos. 1 and 2 and was eventually selected by the Nationals with the 16th pick and signed for a $2.925 million bonus despite not having thrown competitively in five months. —David Rawnsley
A.J. Cole – RHP
Andrew “A.J.” Cole has always come about his velocity pretty easily and was already throwing Major League velocities coming out of his freshman year at Oviedo High School in Florida. He came to the 2007 Perfect Game Junior National Showcase as a 6-foot-4, 180-pound 15 year old and threw steadily in the 88-90 mph range with an upper-70s slider.
His notes from that event read as follows:
Easy arm, little hitch on backside, 3/4 arm slot, solid mechanics, good sink, held velocity from stretch, worked runners, good pitchers body, makings of a thick trunk with maturity, located FB and SL to both sides of plate, good hard SL, showed some ASR, fielded position well, good composure and presence.
Cole would continue to gradually improve and fulfill his young projection through the remainder of his high school days. His velocity moved up to 90-93 in the summer of 2008 while pitching for the Orlando Scorpions and was steadily in the mid-90s, topping out at 98 mph at the 17u WWBA National Championship in July of 2009. He was named a Perfect Game All-American and pitched in the 2009 PG All-American Classic.
Two things at that point kept scouts from going completely all in on Cole despite the easy plus/plus velocity and the profile pitcher’s build and looseness. First, while his breaking ball would flash hard spin and bite, it wavered between slider and curveball shape in the upper 70s and was never a consistent potential plus offering. Secondly, Cole showed good control of his fastball in terms of throwing strikes but had below average command, as he was often up in the strike zone and straight. Hitters got better swings at times off Cole than one would expect given his raw stuff.
Cole went into the 2010 draft ranked seventh in the 2010 high school class by Perfect Game and was expected to be a first round draft pick. However, concerns about his signability and scholarship to Miami caused Cole to slide out of the first round and he was eventually selected by the Nationals in the fourth round.
Given that the new draft slot guidelines had Cole’s slot listed at $258,000, the Nationals at the time didn’t have a reputation for overspending, and that they were believed to be mustering all their resources for their first pick, No. 1 overall selection Bryce Harper, it seemed like a strange place for the hard throwing high school right-hander to land.
But the Nationals carried the day, not only signing Cole for a fourth round record $2 million bonus, but of course getting Harper into the organization as well. —David Rawnsley
Brian Goodwin – OF
Goodwin's talents were well known in high school, as he was named to the 2008 PG All-American where he garnered MVP honors by hitting the go-ahead two-run single in the top of the ninth inning at Dodgers Stadium. Overall in that game he was 2-for-4 with a double, and also scored an insurance run in the final frame.
Leading up to the 2009 draft he was ranked the 34th-best high school player in the nation, although Goodwin's commitment to North Carolina caused him to slide to the 17th round where he was taken by the White Sox, a team that is known to covet premium athletes such as Goodwin.
Goodwin played at a handful of PG/WWBA tournament events with his home-state Dirtbags, including back-to-back World Championships in Jupiter, Fla. in 2007 and 2008. His five-tool talents were easy to see on the baseball field, with game-changing speed, an impact bat from the lefthanded batter's box and the ability to pitch in the mid-80s off the mound. Most of his power was to the alleys at the time, but due to an aggressive approach and good natural strength more over-the-fence power was expected to emerge as he continued to fill out his 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame.
His polished profile in high school led to him enjoying immediate success during his freshman year for the Tar Heels, although he spent only one year there prior to transferring to Miami-Dade College for his sophomore year after he was suspended for violating team policy at UNC. While this made him eligible for the draft a year earlier than if he had remained at North Carolina, it also led to some off-the-field questions.
Goodwin’s superior athleticism and maturing baseball skills make him an obvious first-round candidate, no matter what the draft year. He has all the raw tools to excel in the big leagues, and his combination of hitting skills, emerging power, superior speed and stellar defense makes him one of the best all-around outfield prospects in the 2011 draft. Goodwin is a 6.5-second runner with outstanding range in center field. He also has one of the top outfield arms in the class. Offensively, Goodwin has a quick, effortless lefthanded swing and stays inside the ball with a level, line-drive type swing. His raw strength enables him to generate bat speed and drive balls into the gaps, although his present approach at the plate limits his loft power … Goodwin is far from a finished product, however, and scouts say he’ll need to continue to refine both his approach at the plate and defense in center field. More than anything, he needs to develop more consistent breaks on balls hit his way in order to settle in as an everyday center fielder.
The Nationals, another organization that has valued impact overall athletes in recent years, took Goodwin in the supplemental-first round of the 2011 draft. —Patrick Ebert
Lucas Sims – RHP
Sims, a Georgia native, began his high school career as a primary shortstop who also pitched. He attended his first showcase, the 2011 PG Southeast Underclass Showcase, as his sophomore year at Brookwood High School began. During the infield workout the 15 year old Sims threw 92 mph across the infield from shortstop with a lot of movement. The next day he took the mound and sat 88-90 with that same movement and it became quite obvious where his future would be on the baseball diamond.
Wisely, Sims technically remained a primary infielder until the summer after his junior year of high school, limiting the mileage on his arm until his final draft evaluation year arrived. He was a relatively advanced prep arm despite dividing his efforts, showing good command of his fastball when working in the 90-92 range, and several ticks higher whenever he decided to reached back for more. He registered as high as 97 mph with his fastball at the East Coast Pro Showcase. He didn't just flash velocity in showcase settings though, he touched 96 in multiple WWBA tournaments where he continued to play for his hometown Team Gwinnett, rather than leaving them for an all-prospect conglomerate team.
Beyond the velocity, Sims' curveball showed good potential, with sharp break and a hard spin rate, one of the primary indicators scouts look for when projecting breaking balls. His changeup was ahead of the developmental curve as well and he showed a consistent ability to compete in tough spots and make necessary in-game adjustments throughout his amateur career.
His success the summer prior to his senior year, which began with an appearance at the 2011 National Showcase in Fort Myers, Florida, reached its pinnacle at the PG All-American Classic, where he took the mound in the second inning for the East squad. At both events Sims' fastball peaked at 94 mph.
Sims came into his senior spring as a viable first round candidate, but in a very deep 2012 high school class he was seen as a bubble candidate for the first round. As it turned out his hometown Atlanta Braves, who built a dynasty around drafting and developing pitching, particularly from players plucked up from their own backyard, tabbed Sims with the 21st pick. —Todd Gold
J.R. Graham – RHP
Perfect Game’s Allan Simpson wrote the following draft profile for Graham prior to the 2011 draft. It summarizes Graham’s amateur years well and sets the stage for his somewhat ironic professional career thus far.
Even with his slight frame, Graham has one of the most-electric arms in this year’s draft class. His fastball reached 97-98 mph this spring as a matter of routine, and often peaked out at 100. For a time, it looked like Graham’s overpowering fastball alone would vault him into the first round, especially when he didn’t walk a batter through his first 12 relief appearances, spanning 24 innings. At the time, he had no walks and 26 strikeouts.
But Graham’s performance started to level off after he made a rare start in the final game of Santa Clara’s West Coast Conference season-opening, three-game series against Loyola Marymount on April 10, when he was rocked for eight runs in five-plus innings, and walked his first batter of the season. With Santa Clara posting just a 17-32 record (4-15 in conference) this season, save opportunities were tough to come by for Graham, and he ended up making three more starts to get in some meaningful innings. Overall, he went 3-4, 3.54 with four walks and 41 strikeouts in 53 innings.
As the season wound down, most of the talk about Graham going in the first round had pretty much subsided, and the consensus among scouts is that he’ll be a second-rounder, though could possibly slip into the sandwich round. Graham is highly athletic and very competitive, but his issue as a prospect has always revolved around his big arm—and small, wiry frame.
As a senior in high school, Graham weighed only 165 pounds, but had little trouble reaching 92 mph and showcasing his impressive arm strength from the hole at shortstop. He was a solid two-way prospect at the time, with speed (6.68 in the 60) and sound infield actions, and actually saw significant time at third base in his first two seasons at Santa Clara. But when he struggled to hit at the college level, and it was becoming increasingly clear that his future was on the mound, Graham settled in as a closer for the Broncos over the latter part of the 2010 season.
In 23 appearances, he saved four games while going 1-1, 5.27. During the summer in the Northwoods League, Graham focused on pitching and earned strong reviews for his quick arm and ability to pound the strike zone with easy 92-94 mph velocity. By this spring, Graham had jacked up his velocity another 4-5 mph. Though he also has a quality slider and changeup, giving him the three pitches he would need to work as a starter, Graham’s startling performance this spring in an end-of-game role, where he has been able to air out his fastball almost exclusively, has left little doubt in the minds of scouts that his future role is at the back end of the bullpen.
Evidently, the one organization that had doubts in their minds about Graham’s future role as a backend bullpen guy was the Braves, who grabbed him when Graham unexpectedly slid to the fourth round and immediately transitioned him to a full-time starter role. —David Rawnsley
Jason Hursh – RHP
Jason Hursh came to the Perfect Game Sunshine South Showcase in early June, 2009, after his junior year as a primary shortstop and secondary outfielder. He ran a 6.96 60-yard dash and showed plus arm from both shortstop (91 mph) and the outfield (93) but did not grade out nearly as well as a hitter, grading out at 7.5/7 on the Perfect Game scouting scale that goes up to 10. With that in mind, the PG scouts at the event asked Hursh if he would like to throw an inning on the mound on the event’s second day. He readily agreed.
It was a very good decision, as Hursh threw in the 89-91-mph range and did it easily with simple mechanics. He was immediately invited to the PG National Showcase two weeks later and duplicated his performance while adding a mid-70s curveball that showed some promise once his young mechanics become consistent. He reaffirmed in batting prospect that he wasn’t a next level hitter and showed all the colleges in attendance that he was a top level pitching prospect.
Armed with a 4.0 plus GPA in addition to a fastball that started peaking in the 93-94 mph range during his senior year (11-2, 2.47, 123 strikeouts in 70 innings), Hursh bypassed a sixth round selection by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2010 draft to attend Oklahoma State.
After an uneventful freshman season, Hursh tore an elbow ligament pitching in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2011 and had to sit out the entire 2012 spring season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He recovered quickly and had already returned to the mound by that summer, showing a steady mid-90s fastball in the California Collegiate Summer League.
Early in the spring of 2013, Hursh was one of hottest commodities on the scouting circuit, regularly topping out at 97-98 mph and showing very good command of his heavy sinking fastball. His slider and changeup were workable but not advanced secondary pitches, however. As Hursh lost some velocity and the edge on his command under a heavy workload at Oklahoma State (16 starts, 106 innings) he lost some of his luster in scout’s eyes but was still selected by the Braves with the 31st overall pick, receiving a $1.7 million signing bonus.
Yes, Hursh would have probably figured out at some point that his career was on the mound if he had declined to throw an inning that morning in Brenham, Texas in 2009. But it still was a very good spur of the moment decision. —David Rawnsley
Patrick Ebert is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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Todd Gold is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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David Rawnsley is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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You can contact David by clicking here