The 2021 MLB Draft begins on July 11, 2021, and unlike in 2020, this will be a twenty round draft — shorter than the forty rounds the draft has been in the most recent years prior to 2020, but longer than last year’s five round version. The Rangers’ top three picks are at #2, #38, and #73.
In the coming days, we will be doing write-ups of potential Texas Ranger draft picks, looking both at players who are in the mix at #2 and players who would be candidates to be picked in the second or third rounds. Today we are looking at Manhattan Beach, California, high school pitcher Thatcher Hurd.
Thatcher Hurd is a 6’4”, 205 lb. righthanded pitcher out of Manhattan Beach, California. Hurd was a catcher for most of his career, and originally was committed to UC Santa Barbara as a catcher. Hurd worked as a pitcher for the first time this past summer, however, and had success, resulting in his transferring to Mira Costa High School for his senior year and shifting his commitment to UCLA, as a pitcher.
Most of the position players who make a late shift to pitching seem to be guys who throw hard and have the feel for a breaking ball, and who you hope will develop some command and a third pitch as they get more experience. Hurd is the opposite of that — his fastball is just in the upper 80s/low 90s. However, he has what BA calls a plus curveball and an above-average changeup, along with a slider.
Hurd has the size, build and projectability that leads folks to believe he can add velocity going forward. MLB Pipeline talks about his “athleticism and clean delivery on the mound” as qualities that “point to plus pitchability,” and he gets good grades for his command. His inexperience on the mound and overall lack of a track record as a pitcher, along with the relatively low velocity on his fastball, get him dinged, but the total package is intriguing.
Baseball America has Hurd at #44 on their current top 500 draft list. MLB Pipeline has Hurd at #57 on their board. Over at ESPN Kiley McDaniel has Hurd #60 on his current board. Keith Law has Hurd ranked #73 on his board. Fangraphs has Hurd at #41 on their board.
Hurd doesn’t show up on any of the recent mock drafts I’ve seen.
Thatcher Hurd is the type of prep pitcher who will likely either go in the first three rounds, or who won’t be picked at all, particularly with the new 20 round format of the draft this year — in years past a team may have used a 37th rounder on him just to be able to talk to him over the summer and have the rights to him for the summer just in case. Hurd probably isn’t going in the first round, but one gets the sense from reading the write-ups on him that he will likely want late first round money to forego heading to Westwood and pitching for the Bruins.
Hurd is a high beta guy — if he does add a few mph on his fastball as he fills out, maintains his athleticism and clean delivery, and his secondaries continue to develop, he could be a mid-rotation pitcher. On the other hand, if he doesn’t add velocity, or if his command backs up, he’s likely topping out at AA. Unlike the big armed types where you can say, well, if the changeup doesn’t come along or his command is an issue, he’s still got a reliever projection, Hurd seems like he’s starter or bust.
Keith Law calls Hurd “the classic second-pick overslot guy, where a team pays him in the hopes he’ll look like a first-rounder in three years.” He’s someone that a team that has an extra pick between the first and second round might target, with the idea of going below slot with the first and compensatory pick and then over slot in the second round for someone like Hurd. The Rangers, who are likely to sign whoever they take at #2 for less than slot, could go over slot at #38, or they could take someone like Robert Gasser at #38 for less than slot and go well above slot in the third round for Hurd.
Thatcher Hurd has the type of vibe about him that seems to fit with what the Rangers have been targeting the last few years, with the command of multiple pitches and the projectability to add some velocity (and one thing the Rangers seem to be good at is taking 6’4” righthanders and getting them to throw hard). He also is described by BA as being “an estate and inquisitive learner who constantly seeks information on how to get better,” which the Rangers are going to like. He’s someone to be watching on the draft day.