Monday, February 27, 2012

2012 Top Prospects #6: Drew Hutchison

Name: Drew Hutchison
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Acquired: 15th round (2009)
Opening Day age: 21
Height/weight: 6’2”/165 lbs
Best/worst tool: Command/durability
Risk factor: Low
ETA: 2012

Scouting Report

Thanks to his excellent command, Hutchison is often mislabeled as a control or finesse pitcher. In reality, that’s not the case. He certainly has great command of his three pitch repertoire, but his stuff is more than strong enough to give him mid rotation potential. The three pitch description isn’t entirely accurate, as Hutchison actually throws two fastballs. The better offering is his two-seamer, which shows excellent armside movement while sitting around 90 mph. In addition to the down-and-away sink, he also cuts the pitch to bust in on the hands of left handed batters. His four-seamer clocks higher, sitting 90-93 mph and touching 94-95 mph, but can flatten out and become very hittable if he leaves it up and over the plate. The pitches show above average and average potential, respectively, though both could improve if he bulks up his frame and adds velocity. Hutchison’s best pitch is his plus circle changeup. He has excellent arm speed on the pitch, and it has nice velocity separation from his two fastballs, sitting in the low 80’s. Similar to his two-seamer, the change has down and away armside movement. Rounding out Hutchison’s arsenal is an above average slider that flashes plus potential but lacks consistency. When it’s on, the pitch has good two plane movement and tilt, clocking in the mid 80’s. When it’s off, it gets slurvy and is closer to 80 mph. Hutchison is an intelligent pitcher who uses good sequencing and location to keep the opposition unbalanced. He works with a deceptive delivery from a low 3/4 arm slot that he repeats well. He stays closed as he readies himself, and follows through with cross body arm action that has caused concerns about his long term durability. Hutchison is athletic with a strong lower half, but looks bigger than his listed weight of 165 lbs. There’s still room to add muscle, but he’s more polished than projectable at this point.

2011 Statistics and Analysis

28 games (27 starts), 149.1 IP, 120 H, 42 ER, 4 HR, 35 BB, 171 K
14-5, 2.53 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 10.31 K/9, 4.89 K/BB, 1.33 GO/AO

An overslot signee in the 2009 draft, Hutchison finally made his full season debut after a dominant 2010 season in short season ball. The results spoke for themselves. Showing more advanced development than anyone had expected, Hutchison split the year across three different levels –- Single-A Lansing, High-A Dunedin, and Double-A New Hampshire. What makes his season even more fascinating is that, despite facing increasingly skilled competition, he lost absolutely nothing statistically. It could even be argued that he improved as he ascended the ranks of the farm system. Hutchison’s season was highlighted by a personal streak of six-plus consecutive scoreless starts that began with Lansing and concluded after his promotion to Dunedin. Hutchison’s 171 strikeouts were 1st amongst Blue Jays prospects, and had he not been shut down due to an inning limit, he could have ranked among the leaders of the entire minor leagues.

Expected 2012 Assignment: Double-A New Hampshire

Future Outlook

After putting together such a hugely successful 2011 season, many people feel Hutchison is big league ready. In short, he’s not. Hutchison pitched only 15 innings across 3 starts for Double-A, and there is still a lot he could learn at the minor league level. Towards the end of the season as he approached his inning limit, Hutchison was being held to quick 5 inning starts. He was dominant, no doubt, but part of being a starting pitcher is being able to go seven-plus innings with regularity. Beyond just the added toll of throwing 30-40 extra pitches, hitters are seeing you for a third time in the latter innings, and they’ll have made adjustments. Hutchison will need to learn to make his own adjustments, as major league hitters learn quickly. While an early season debut is almost out of the question, July or August would be a good timeline for Hutchison’s debut, as Toronto is likely to be creating some roster space around the trade deadline.

Perfect World Projection: Exceptional mid rotation starter.

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