On November 9th, James Chipman launched the 2012 Seedlings to Stars Florida State League All-Star Team with an intro post. He went on to reveal 8 members of the team before leaving our site to focus his writing efforts on out Detroit Tigers site, Motor City Bengals. Nathaniel and I decided that we needed to reveal the rest of the team to take the series to its planned endpoint. To tie up the loose end I will be unveiling the rest of roster and will follow a similar format to what James was doing for consistency.
Today I am pleased to announce our selection for the team’s #2 Starter.
Name: Drew Hutchison
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 165 lbs
2011 FSL Team: Dunedin Blue Jays
2011 FSL Stats: 62.1 IP (11 G/10 GS), 2.74 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 6.1 H/9, 2.0 BB/9, 9.5 SO/9 and 4.71 SO/BB
After playing high school baseball at Lakeland Senior HS in Florida, Hutchison was drafted in the 15th round of the 2009 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. It took a $400,000 bonus at the deadline to get him under contract and keep him from his college commitment to Stetson University. Though to be completely accurate he did actually attend Stetson for a few days, got unpacked and settled and then had to pack up and leave once he signed his pro contract. In addition to the cash, the Jays also committed to pay for “8 semesters of college at a public institution.”
His contract demands were well known prior to the draft and were one of the primary factors that he slid to the 15th round, but he also wasn’t viewed as an elite talent. In fact heading into his senior season with Lakeland, he was not included on Baseball America’s Top-100 High School Draft Prospects list and despite a strong senior year still wasn’t thought of all that highly.
The Jays obviously saw something in him that made the financial committment worth the risk. While they went way over slot to get the deal done, they knew what they were getting into when they selected him. It appears that the gamble is going to pay off and the organization deserves a great deal of credit for picking him and for getting him under contract.
Behind the Numbers:
I mentioned above that he was not regarded as one of the Top-100 high school draft prospects. He was clearly undervalued then and frankly little has changed in that regard. While Nathaniel aggressively ranked him as the 20th best prospect in our 2012 S2S Top-100, very few sources share his enthusiasm.
Even after this past season, Baseball America still considered him just the 13th best prospect to play in the FSL and ranked him 9th in their Blue Jays Top-10 three weeks ago. They’re not alone in downplaying his accomplishments.
I get that Hutchison lacks the elite level velocity and power stuff that people look for and that he doesn’t have the ideal build that teams look for, but it’s not like he’s lacking for quality pitches and he’s not exactly some soft tossing RHP with a straight fastball. In fact as you will read in the scouting report below he’s quite far from that.
The bottom line is that ranking guys like Justin Nicolino, Deck McGuire and Aaron Sanchez ahead of him is asinine and borderline criminal in my eyes. All those guys profile to be #3 starters with the possible upside of being a #2 starter. Hutchison has a similar profile and unlike the others has turned in quality results.
In 2 professional seasons he’s pitched at 5 different levels and he’s been dominant at every single one of them including his 3 start stint in New Hampshire (AA) to close out 2011. Hutchison has now logged 218.0 minor league innings and has stellar numbers to show for his work. His 2.52 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 7.1 H/9, 2.2 BB/9, 9.7 SO/9 and 4.33 SO/BB stand up against the career numbers of pretty much any prospect in the game – past or present – especially considering he just turned 21-years old in August.
Fortunately there are some sources that share our enthusiasm about Hutchison. Nathaniel and I may be on an island but at least we can see land in a few directions. Our friends over on Baseball Instinct ranked Drew as the Blue Jays’ 3rd best prospect in their Top-10 and Top Prospect Alert followed suit slotting him at #3 in their Top-15.
Hutchison features a four pitch mix with a two-seam fastball (90-92 mph), a four-seam fastball (92-94), a changeup that sits in the low-80s, and an inconsistent slider that flashes as a true swing-and-miss weapon when it’s on. While his velocity is around average, all of his pitches play up because all feature a great deal of movement. The one exception is his four-seam FB which lacks the movement of his other offerings but he has great control and command over the pitch, allowing him to hit his spots and pound the zone.
Beyond the stuff, Hutchison is aggressive and has an advanced feel for the nuances of pitch sequencing as well as tempo. He’s not afraid to pitch to contact and loves to fill up the lower portion of the zone with strikes. These are all traits that are very rare for a 25-year old rotation prospect let alone someone who just turned 21 a few months ago.
There are some concerns about his durability based on his frame and the fact that he throws across his body, but his delivery adds additional deception and serves him well. While he does throw across his body he has an otherwise very clean delivery.
Toronto has a lot of talented arms in their system but none of them can touch Hutchison when it comes to control. He’s walked just 54 batters so far in minor league action and his BB/9 has never been above 2.7 at any of his five stops. Last year in 149.1 total innings he walked just 2.1 hitters per 9 innings pitched. Not only did he improve his walk rate from 2010 to 2011, he also boosted his SO/9 from 8.3 to 10.3.
Drew Hutchison may not have the top-shelf stuff of elite prospects like Matt Moore, but it’s plenty good to take on – and best – major league hitters. Add on to that his advanced control and grasp of the “art” of pitching and you have a guy who is capable of having a great deal of success in the big leagues.
He was able to rack up just 15.0 innings in Double-A before he hit the 150 inning cap that the Jays put on him in 2011 so a return to New Hampshire to start 2012 seems to be the most likely destination. If he continues to progress and cut through the minors as he has to date, he could make his way to Las Vegas (AAA) within a dozen or so starts and a stint in the majors could follow shortly after that.
While I’d like to see him log more time in the minors to further hone his craft, Hutchinson is already close to major league ready. Given his slight, lanky frame durability will always be a concern but otherwise he projects to be a solid to very good #3 starter at the major league level. That’s a likely outcome but he has the potential to be a reliable and legit #2 if things break right.
To review the rest of our 2011 Florida State League All-Star Team, click here.
For more on the Blue Jays, check out Jays Journal