Some have knocked the 2013 MLB draft class as weak. Even if arguments can be made for that side on the whole, few could contest the strength of this year's college pitching crop. Stanford's Mark Appel and Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray are near-locks to go 1 and 2 overall, and Sean Manaea of Indiana State and Braden Shipley of Nevada shouldn't be far behind. After those four comes a third tier of hurlers from higher learning institutions, all of whom should be snapped up some time before the Astros lead off the second round- Jacksonville's Chris Anderson, Vanderbilt's Kevin Ziomek, LSU's Ryan Eades all fit into that mix, and so does UC Irvine's Friday starter, Andrew Thurman. It's easy to lose players in the shuffle when a draft is particularly strong in one spot, but Thurman is a player that any follower of the draft should keep their eyes on firmly.
Thurman stands 6'3" and is listed at just over 200 pounds. He looks very fluid on the mound and has a comfortable demeanor. His mechanics are repeated well and should not lead to any red flags as far as I can tell. His arm action is smooth and he uses a high 3/4 release point to add downward plane to his fastball, which comes in between 90 and 93 MPH, even in the later innings. In college he relies heavily on his plus changeup, which clocks in anywhere from 77 to 82 MPH, ideal separation from his fastball. His changeup shows sink and fade and plays wonderfully off of his fastball. His command of those two pitches is his bread and butter, which allows a parallel to be drawn between him and Astros' farmhand Nick Tropeano when he came out of college.
In addition to his fastball and change, Thurman also flashes a major league quality 12-6 curveball with great bite, but it can flatten out at times and become hittable. He mixes the curve in very rarely compared to his fastball and change, and though the pitch isn't the key to his success, having a quality third offering could alter his outlook significantly. Through 75 and 2/3 innings so far this season, Thurman has 65 strikeouts against 14 walks and 71 hits allowed, only one of which is a home run. His ERA sits at 3.21.
With Thurman's present command and his fastball/changeup combination, he should have no trouble ending up a successful major league relief pitcher. Even if his curveball stagnates, his velocity would likely play up in the pen and he could become a late-inning option.
A pitcher with Thurman's quality of stuff and command carries the MLB upside of a #3 starter. Tough he'll go higher in the draft, I expect his career path to be similar to Nick Tropeano's out of Stony Brook. They're quite similar as prospects in a lot of ways.
Will He Sign?
Almost definitely. It's rare for college pitchers to turn down the type of money he'll likely be offered barring an injury or similar extenuating circumstances.
Projected Draft Round
Given his signability and polish, Thurman will draw some interest in the first round. However, in this strong college pitching crop, it's possible he could slip into the second round, but I would project him to go somewhere between the late first round and the end of the sandwich picks.
ANDREW THURMAN PROSPECT VIDEO, RHP, UNIVERSITY OF IRVINE. INNINGS 5-7 (via Steve Fiorindo)
ANDREW THURMAN, RHP, UC IRVINE, PITCHING MECHANICS AT 200 FPS (via Steve Fiorindo)