After missing last season, Curtiss thrived in bullpen

After missing last season, Curtiss thrived in bullpen

The Twins may have found a sleeper in the sixth round of the First-Year Player Draft on Friday, as they selected highly touted right-hander John Curtiss from the University of Texas with the No. 170 overall pick.

Curtiss, 21, was ranked as the No. 88 overall Draft prospect by, and he was projected by many to be a possible first-round pick this year if he didn't have Tommy John surgery that wiped out his 2013 season.

"I think he's a sleeper," Draft expert Jim Callis said. "I really like him, but he had Tommy John [surgery]. He was considered a possible first-round pick, if healthy."

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on at 12 p.m. CT.

Curtiss excelled as a freshman at Texas in 2011, posting a 3.50 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 25 walks in 64 1/3 innings. He made four starts that year and 24 relief appearances.

Curtiss missed the next season due to surgery, and he also had a rib removed to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome. Curtiss returned this year as a redshirt sophomore, fairing well in relief with a 2.23 ERA and 28 strikeouts and 13 walks in 36 1/3 innings to go along with eight saves.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder still projects to be a starter, however, and he has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and tops out at 96 mph. His second-best pitch is his slider that can reach the 80s, but he's had trouble commanding it in his return from Tommy John surgery. He also has a changeup but needs to work on it, as he didn't use it much in relief this year.

"We actually think he has a chance to be a starter," Twins scouting director Deron Johnson said. "He's tall with a projectable-looking body. He's got three pitches he can throw for strikes. So he might be that conversion guy."

Curtiss had the chance to be a third-round pick out of Carroll High School in Southlake, Texas, in 2011, but he told teams he wanted to honor his commitment to Texas, so he wasn't drafted until the 30th round by the Rockies and didn't sign.

He projects to be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter in the Majors and is also highly intelligent, as he graduated from Texas in three years with double major in history and English. As a result, scouts consider him signable, because he already has his degree.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.