Hurst inks contract with Anaheim Angels

OCALA, FL — The disappointing news that the Florida baseball team would not be playing any more games in 2007 came as the NCAA tournament field of 64 teams was announced at 12:30pm. However, a senior pitcher gained assurance that he had not played his final game.

David Hurst signed a professional baseball contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Monday under Major League Baseball’s Rule IV, which governs how players are eligible for the draft.

A player who is a fifth-year senior may sign a professional contract as soon as he finishes his last class in college. Former UF pitcher Darren O’Day signed with the Angels prior to the 2006 MLB draft under similar circumstances.

Standard Minor League Baseball contracts are for seven years, with the player’s salary dependent upon the league he is assigned to. Hurst’s contract included a signing bonus as well as bonus incentives dependent upon advancement to higher levels of the minor leagues.

“It’s a dream come true,” Hurst said. “I’m very proud to have played for the University of Florida and, but especially to have graduated.”

Hurst led the Gators with an ERA of 3.44 and six saves during his senior season. He had a record of 2-2 in 52.1 innings, 30 strikeouts and 15 walks.

Tom Kotchman, who scouts northern Florida for the Angels, signed Hurst after watching him play at the Gators’ Scout Day, “four or five times in person and a couple of times on t.v.” Kotchman has signed several players on the Angels’ current MLB roster, including his son Casey.

The Gators finished the 2007 season at 29-30 overall, finishing sixth in the Southeastern Conference and going 1-2 in the SEC tournament under coach Pat McMahon.

“I’m a big Pat McMahon person,” Kotchman said. “I like him as a coach and as a person. He’ll get things turned around for Florida. You can’t get much of a better coach than Pat McMahon.”

Kotchman will be Hurst’s manager when he reports to the Class-A Orem Owlz in Utah, part of the Pioneer League. Kotchman has more wins that any other manager in minor league baseball.

Kotchman was in attendance for one of Hurst’s worst performances of the season, against Florida State in Gainesville on Feb . 20. Hurst pitch one inning, allowing three hits and four unearned runs in relief, including a towering three-run home run to Florida State’s D’Vontrey Richardson.

“I want to see a kid fail,” Kotchman said. “When a ball’s hit that good, you just have to tip your cap. After he threw that pitch, I was more interested to see how he reacted.”

Prior to attending UF, Hurst played two seasons at Florida Community College at Jacksonville and was drafted by the Colorado Rockies with the 1,187th pick in the 40th round of the 2003 MLB draft. Hurst redshirted during the 2005 season at UF.