Name: Drew Hutchison
Organization: Blue Jays
Notable 2011 Stats: 2.62 ERA, 1.96 FIP, 1 HRA, 19 BB, 84 K, and 52% GB% in 72 IP with Lansing (A);
2.74 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 3 HRA, 14 BB, 66 K, and 54% GB% in 62 1/3 IP with Dunedin (High-A);
1.20 ERA, 1.20 FIP, 0 HRA, 2 BB, 21 K, and 21% GB% in 15 IP with New Hampshire (AA);
2.53 ERA, 2.14 FIP, 4 HRA, 35 BB, 171 K, and 50% GB% in 149 1/3 IP total
Why He’s This High: Hutchison entered the year as a relatively anonymous Low-A pitching prospect; the 15th-round pick in 2009 had put together two solid years in short-season, but still flew under the radar. This year, however, he elevated his stock to become one of the crown jewels of one of the game’s top farm systems.
Hutchison’s rise was very similar to that of now-former teammate Nestor Molina–he put up great numbers in A-ball and then had a nice finishing kick in Double-A in August. Hutchison, however, is over a year and a half younger than Molina and started the season a level lower, so his accomplishments are even more impressive.
Hutchison has three pitches that all rate at least average, as he throws a moving fastball in the 90-94 range to go with a solid slider and changeup. He’s still got room to fill out his skinny frame–let’s not forget he’s just 21–and he controls all of his offerings exquisitely.
Why He’s This Low: Hutchison’s stuff is fine, but with just average MLB velocity and offspeed pitches that still need more consistency, he still could stand to refine things. Furthermore, he simply won’t have the room for error that guys like Matt Moore, Julio Teheran, or Shelby Miller have, since he doesn’t have that grade of pure stuff.
Hutchison does throw across his body, which adds deception but puts stress on his shoulder. He’s not the biggest guy out there, so the potential for injury is probably higher than average.
He’ll have to prove he has enough stuff to still strike out around a batter per inning in the majors.
Conclusions: Hutchison’s approach reminds me a lot of Trevor Cahill‘s, and Cahill is a great example of a pitcher who put up big minor league numbers and didn’t translate them to the majors that well. Of course, it’s kind of absurd to treat Cahill–who’s not even 2 1/2 years older than Hutchison!–as a finished product, but he serves as a nice “floor” for Hutchison, assuming the Jays prospect can prove his durability in a similar fashion. Hutchison should limit walks and home runs; his ultimate upside relies on how well he’s going to be able to miss bats. Pitchers with far worse stuff have done just fine in that regard, but some, like Cahill, never can quite figure it out. Given that Hutchison has just one year of full-season ball, it’s premature to lean too heavily one way or the other with regards to his future strikeout potential.
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