Thatcher Hurd’s Mira Costa debut was the perfect way to make a first impression.

Hurd, a transfer from Acalanes High in Northern California, took the ball March 22 against Serra.

In five innings, he faced 20 batters, struck out 14 and allowed one unearned run in a 10-1 win.

“I felt really good,” Hurd said. “My physical preparation through the week made me to kind of go out there and do that. I also was mentally prepared, that’s something I’m big on, some breathing mechanisms, visualizing.

“It’s really nice as a pitcher when you have your best stuff of there and you can enjoy that and I think that’s what was.”

That’s certainly sounds like a veteran pitcher, but Hurd, who is listed at 6’4, isn’t a veteran pitcher, by any account.

He committed to UC Santa Barbara as a catcher while at Acalanes.

During the summer he switched to pitching and hit the showcase circuit. Now, Hurd is signed with UCLA and is starting to rise on the early MLB mock drafts.

“My arm was always my biggest tool as a catcher,” he said. “I always had a good feel and understanding for pitchers. I used to catch bullpens for high school guys when I was 10 years old and I kind of outgrew catching. I have a pitcher’s body, I’m pretty lanky, good arm and I love the one-on-one competitiveness. I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had pitching.

“I used to live in Arizona, I did every sport, BMX, I did Fencing for a little bit, I did all that with my brother and once we moved to California we got the itch, for whatever reason we went to Sports Authority and looked at catcher gloves.”

Hurd and his family moved down to Southern California last year. His brother Logan is a left-handed freshman pitcher at Loyola Marymount.

Logan was the first pitcher he caught when the two played Little League.

“We were always on the same team and up until this year, I was one of the only catchers that ever caught him,” he said. “We had that chemistry, sometimes mound meetings would get heated. It was awesome playing with him and I hope to do it again at a higher level.”

Mira Costa coach Keith Ramsey, a 10-year pitcher in the minor leagues, sees what the scouts see in Hurd.

“I see a guy with projectable frame, great body type,” Ramsey said. “He can spin it. He has a great breaking ball, he’s got the velocity, can command it and obviously the most important thing is he’s got the intangibles, competitiveness and wants to be in the moment out there.

“I was extremely impressed (with his first outing). That was the second time I’ve seen him in action, it was impressive.”

Hurd started opening eyes with his performance at the Perfect Game National Showcase in July.

“Pretty big scouting event event, I pitched really well, I think I had five strikeouts in two innings, it was the first time getting out in front of a lot of scouts,” Hurd said. “A lot of people saw it, which was cool. I love playing in big stadiums and it was in the Hoover Met Complex, where they played the SEC Tournament, it was a very cool experience.

“What I learned from the Perfect Game tournament and going through the summer showcase circuit is that I really like playing in front of a lot of people, when that heat is on you in big stadiums, so I reassessed what I wanted, UCLA has always been my dream school, every California kid dreams about UCLA, it doesn’t get much better than Westwood and being close to home.”

There is also the matter of the draft coming up, that could change his plans.

“There were four or five scouting directors (at his last start,” Ramsey said. “So those are the decision-makers. I know he loves UCLA and coach (John) Savage, and that whole environment, so I think ultimately, he probably ends up there, but he’s also going to have to make a decision.”

Hurd isn’t focusing on that right now.

“When I step away from it, the reason I play is because I love it,” he said. “I’m not playing for scouts. A mentality that I have is scouts can come watch me, but I’m just going to be playing. I used to be a guy low on the rankings and that would push and now that I’m moving up, that also pushes me, I want to keep moving up and keep separating myself.”

Contact Lisa Jacobs or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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