Top 50 Jays Prospects, Jays Journal Edition: #16 Drew Hutchison


The next prospect on our list is someone that many, if not most, people overlook when they look through Jays prospects, and someone that may surprise some people in terms of our Jays prospect ranking….

#16: Andrew S. Hutchison

image courtesy of battersbox.ca

Right Handed Pitcher /  20 years old / 6’2″ 165 lbs

Born: August 22nd 1990, in Lakeland Florida

Bats Left   Throws Right

High School Team: Lakeland Dreadnaughts

College: Had a commitment to the Stetson University Hatters before signing with the Jays, and actually did make it there for 3 days only before signing with the Jays.

Drafted: in the 15th round of the 2009 draft, 460th overall.

Signed: for $400,000 and 8 semesters of paid education. An amount that is well above slot for the 15th rd.  No other disclosed bonus in the 15th rd of the 2009 draft was above the $260,000 mark, so Drew’s bonus stands out.

Quick Facts:

  • Was sitting at his computer watching the draft on MLB.com when he found out he was drafted.
  • The first person from the Jays to call him was Joel Grampietro, the Florida Area scout for the Jays.
  • Had told the Jays – and presumably other teams – exactly what it would take to get a deal done prior to the draft, so it was no surprise that it cost the Jays $400,000 to sign him away from Stetson.
  • Some of his team mates in Lakeland are also recent draft picks of MLB teams. Yordy Cabrera, a highly rated Oakland SS prospect, was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft and signed  for $1,250,000. SP Joshua Lucas was drafted in the 39th round by the Jays in 2009, but didn’t sign with the club. He signed in 2010 with the Cardinals after being chosen in the 21st round and signed for $100,000. That makes that 2008-09 Lakeland squad a very talented one!
  • Made the NYP mid-season all-star team in 2010 along with team mates OF Yeico Aponte, SP Casey Lawrence, and C Carlos Perez. Hutchison didn’t represent Auburn there, however, as he was promoted to the Lansing Lugnuts before the game took place.
  • Was called and told about his promotion to Lansing by Dennis Holmberg, the new affiliate Bluefield Blue Jays manager.
  • The end-year rankings made up by Baseball America for the NYP League had Carlos Perez ranked 1st, but Drew Hutchison held his own by placing 16th overall despite making only 10 starts in the league.
  • The second pitch he learned when pitching as a youngster was a change up. No wonder it’s a plus pitch!
  • If he could meet anyone in baseball, it would be Greg Maddux, who he credits for having been able to reinvent himself each season in order to be extremely effective (from interview linked below).
  • Also from the interview, he has no idea what he would do if he wasn’t in baseball. He really has no other interests, and that bodes well for his development since it ensures he’ll be 100% committed!

Jersey Number: #30 for the Lansing Lugnuts

Stats:

Yr Tm W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
10 AUB 1 1 3.00 10 45 34 18 15 1 12 44 2.30 0.201
10 LAN 1 2 1.52 5 23.2 17 7 4 1 7 19 0.73 0.191
10 Total 2 3 2.49 15 68.2 51 25 19 2 19 63 1.47 0.198

Interviews/Videos:

Extra Information and previous experience:

  • As a Senior in HS, in 60.2 IP (8 GS), Drew went 6-2 with a 1.73 ERA, 23 HA, 106 Ks and only 18 walks, along with a .110 batting average against and 2 saves.

I initially wrote about Drew Hutchison in February of 2010 and pointed him out as a top 2009 draft pick for the Jays, stating within my piece on him that:

“chances are he’ll be one of the more effective draft picks the Jays took in 2009″, adding that “I decided to take a look at posts of Drew’s performances and his profile as a prospect because he is one of the better SP profiles the Jays have aside from Henderson Alvarez in the lower minors.”

Well, talk about hitting the nail on the head! If we discount all of the pitchers brought in by Alex Anthopoulos since that time, we see that these 2 remain the best pitching prospects left over from the JP Ricciardi ERA. Drew definitely fits in as one of the most effective picks of the 2009 draft for the Jays, and he does deserve a lot more respect than he is getting in most prospect rankings.

The reason Baseball America and others have likened Drew Hutchison to Shaun Marcum in terms of pitching style is due to 2 major factors: his fastball has a ton of sink to it, and his change up is a plus pitch that makes his fastball that much more effective because he not only throws it well, but he’ll throw it in any count. He throws a 2-seam and 4-seam fastball, both with natural sink. He needs to do some work on either improving his slider or developing his cutter further in order to offer more deception at the higher levels, but his fastball-change up combination is definitely his bread and butter. IF Bruce Walton has anything to say about it, however, and they do see Hutchison as a pitcher in the same mould as Marcum, they could get him to develop a great curve, as Marcum stated that Walton – and Jose Molina – are big fans of the curve. It’s something to look for as he progresses in 2011 and beyond.

Overall, it’s the heaviness to his pitches that make it hard for hitters to elevate his pitches at all, and his aggressiveness in getting ahead of hitter – or what we simply call throwing strikes – that make him very effective . You don’t need to go any further than the number of hits Hutchison has given up to see how hard he is to hit. Hitters were only able to manage a sub-Mendoza average of .198 against him overall in 2010, none of which would have been possible without his sink and pitch movement.

Hutchison won’t overpower anyone, as he works anywhere from the high 80s to the low 90s MPH range with his fastball (some believe he may reach 94 MPH if he’s able to add some strength). Having said that, he stated in the Batter’s Box interview linked above that he prides himself on command, not power. He admits that the 90-92 MPH range is his norm for his fastball and doesn’t seem to be very focused on adding to that.

Hutchison could definitely add a little weight and muscle to his frame. Listed at just 165 lbs, he certainly has the room to weight onto his 6’2″ height. Still, there’s reportedly nothing wrong with his delivery in terms of effort and repetition and he is expected to be very durable as a result. He prides himself on having a high baseball IQ, studies all of the intricacies of the game in order to gain any edge he can, and always wants to go on the mound with a plan in mind. When command and changing speeds are your fortes, you definitely need the baseball IQ and a competitive mind to get through some rough games, because there will be many to come.

The last point is where Hutchison excels so much. You need to have a heightened level of competitiveness in order to put all of those skills and dedication together, and Drew Hutchison has that covered and then some. The best example I found about his competitiveness didn’t only come from scouting reports, they also came from a few post-game articles, like this one, which either praised his efforts, or showed how much be’ll battle even when he doesn’t have his best stuff. It’s one thing to want to do well in a game, but it’s another thing to be effective in doing so even when you don’t have your best stuff.

I’ve always been a big fan of pitchers who have a plan, are willing to compete even when they don’t have their best stuff, but still have enough stuff to be considered hard to hit. That description is exactly the package that Hutchison brings to the mound, and it’s hard to see anything stopping him from progressing steadily through the minors as a result. The polish Hutchison shows on the mound and the refinement of his pitches comes from a deep seeded belief he has that you don’t need to overpower hitters in order to get them out.

Hutchison’s approach differs from the likes of power pitching prospects the Jays have, like Daniel Webb who got a bigger signing bonus than Hutchison worth $450,000 despite being chosen 3 rounds later partially due to his power-pitching potential. Webb not only allowed more hits than he pitched innings (77 hits in 68.1 IP), but he also allowed more walks (32 BB to 43 SO). Hutchison doesn’t allow as many hits (51 hits in 68.2 IP) and walks very few hitters (19 BB to 63 SO). Both are just as aggressive on the mound, but the numbers speak for themselves thus far. How that translates to the higher levels of the minors is another story altogether, and the biggest test will be whether Hutchison can be just as effective when hitters have a better plan at the plate.

I expect big things from Hutchison in 2011 and do expect him to get moved quickly through the system.

Expected 2011 Team: Either the Lansing Lugnuts or Dunedin Blue Jays, we lean towards Dunedin after he was so dominant in LoA and many pitching prospects will be pushing for spots in Lansing.

Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: #2-3 Starter, in the same style as Shaun Marum

- MG

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Tags: Carlos Perez Casey Lawrence Drew Hutchison Greg Maddux Joshua Lucas Yeico Aponte Yordy Cabrera

  • Mylegacy

    MAT – I’ve got to say again that this series is the BEST Blue Jays Prospect P*rn I’ve ever read! You guys are doing an amazing, spectacularly well researched, insightful, entertaining, thoughtful, accurate, tour de force! Did I mention I like it?

    As to Drew – I find Marcum like guys often excel in the minors as their control and stuff baffles the kiddies – however – guys like Marcum, who can baffle the big boys too are rare. Having said that – I like Hutchison’s brains, attitude and chances. I see worse case – a Camp like career in the pen – but I sure wouldn’t bet against him having a Marcum like career.

    Are we loaded – or are we loaded!