Thurman set to sign with Astros, Appel far behind?
Right-handed pitcher Andrew Thurman, taken by the Astros with the first pick of the second round in last week’s First-Year Player Draft out UC-Irvine, told MLB.com on Friday he had agreed to a contract with the Astros and was set to sign early next week.
Thurman, taken with the No. 40 overall pick, is scheduled to fly to Houston on Sunday and take a physical and sign his contract on Monday. He said he plans to report to the Astros’ short-season Tri-City affiliate.
“I’m just very excited,” he said. “I feel honored and very blessed to have this opportunity.”
Meanwhile, the Astros will soon their attention to No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel, a right-handed pitcher from Stanford. A report by Jeff Passan of Yahoo on Friday indicated the Astros and Appel were “nearing a deal” and could have an agreement by next week.
In a text message to MLB.com, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow wrote the club plans to engage Appel next week. He graduates from Stanford on Sunday. The prescribed slot bonus for the No. 1 pick is $7.8 million.
“I’m hopeful we can move quickly once we start [the] dialogue, but there is no timeframe yet,” Luhnow wrote.
The Astros announced the signing of nine additional draft picks Thursday, bringing the total number signed to 14. That doesn’t include fourth-round pick Conrad Gregor of Vanderbilt, who has signed, or Thurman, who the Astros envision of a middle-of-the-rotation starter.
“It’s what I’ve always been working towards,” Thurman said. “It’s been my dream since I was a little kid to play professional baseball. It’s kind of a surreal feeling, but I still have to work hard. That part of me hasn’t gone anywhere.”
Terms of the Thurman deal aren’t known, but the slot bonus for that pick is $1,397,200.
When asked about Thurman on Friday, Astros scouting director Mike Elias said: “We feel talks are going very smoothly and we expect he will sign at some point, too. Both sides are making progress, everybody’s on the same page. He hasn’t signed a contract yet, so nothing is finalized. We anticipate getting him into an Astros uniform sooner or later.”
Thurman’s fastball could be a plus pitch in the future — he can reach back for a mid-90s heater when he needs to. He throws a curve and a slider, with the former a bit better than the latter, and his changeup is a deceptive offspeed offering.
Thurman’s good command lets his stuff play up and he can move his fastball in and out, going right after hitters with his very strong feel for pitching. That was on full display in the Cape Cod League last summer, when he struck out 49 hitters over 39 innings in seven starts.
“He was somebody we viewed as late first-round talent, and to get him at 40, we were a little surprised he was there,” Elias said when Thurman was drafted. “We’re very comfortable calling him a mid-rotation starter in the future.”