Jason Hursh already had been waiting about a month to begin his professional career since the Braves took him in the first round of the Draft. Another couple of hours didn't make much of a difference.
Set to take the hill for Class A Rome on Friday, rain pushed back Hursh's debut by about 90 minutes. The delay didn't seem to faze him as he pitched two hitless innings in the Braves' 3-1 triumph over the visiting Asheville Tourists.
"It was just fun to get back out there and get back in the live game situation, just baseball. Felt good to be back on the mound and everything, execute my pitches," said Hursh, who struck out three batters and walked one. "I was getting loose in the bullpen, just starting to get hot, and all of a sudden the tarp is getting put on the field and they shut me down. Of course, I was little anxious to go and start on time and everything but just had to wait a little bit. Not too bad."
Hursh said he settled into his regular mix of pitches, despite the long layoff. The 21-year-old right-hander works primarily with a fastball and changeup for now but also flashed a slider. His velocity, according to Rome pitching coach Derrick Lewis, sat in the low- to mid-90s.
Lewis said the debut by the 31st overall selection in last month's Draft was an impressive one.
"It was good to see him get out there. I know he was excited, that he was looking forward to it, and he showed a good feel for it," Lewis noted. "He was sharp, aggressive, came out and competed and challenged hitters. It was a good start to his pro career."
The Carrollton, Texas, native redshirted his 2012 season at Oklahoma State following Tommy John surgery and came back to reestablish his Draft credentials, going 6-5 with a 2.79 ERA in 16 starts. He logged 106 1/3 innings, striking out 86 and walking 28.
Hursh said he expected that, with a fairly significant chunk of innings already under his belt this season, he'd be limited with Rome to finish out the year.
"I think for the most part just two innings at a time, getting used to getting back out there on the mound, taking it a little bit easy and everything," he added. "It's fun to finally get in a starting rotation again and get things going instead of sitting and watching. It's fun to be a part of the team and the success we're having."
Easing the first-rounder into the rigors of the program is the coaching staff's main objective, Lewis said.
"Just get him consistent work, coming off a college season, get him his work, let him know the game doesn't change. Just do what you know how to do," he said. "He's come in ready to go and he definitely has a ton of ability, so it'll be fun to watch him grow throughout the years."
Hursh exited a scoreless game, but third baseman Eric Garcia provided all of the Braves' offense with a two-run triple in the third and a run-scoring groundout in the seventh. Carlos Perez improved to 4-0, despite allowing one run on two hits in one innings, and Alex Wilson recorded the final four outs for his third save.