As I have freely admitted before on this site, I love the Blue Jays but sadly am not super informed about the minor league system. Don’t get me wrong – I know who Toronto’s blue chip prospects are, but wouldn’t consider myself a prospect expert.
Luckily, I know a man who is.
He is 500 Level Fan’s Ottawa correspondent specializing in the Blue Jays minor league system. He has provided this site with extensive write-ups on the 2010 Draft, along with last year’s call up of Henderson Alvarez. So who better to ask about tomorrow’s first major league start for Drew Hutchison than David “Willie Canate Fan” Yarwood himself?
Named Toronto’s 5th starter today, Drew Hutchison has completed a rapid rise through baseball’s minor leagues. A 15th round pick in 2009, Hutchison has only one full season of professional baseball under his belt. Hutchison started his pro career in 2010 in short-season ball, but was promoted late in the season. Hutchison had a very successful 2011 season where he was promoted twice, reaching AA for his final three starts. He was dominant in his brief stay at AA, striking out 21 batters in 15 innings, giving up only 10 hits, 2 BB and 2 runs.
Hutchison made a number of top prospect lists this year, but was not listed in Baseball America’s or Baseball Prospectus’ top 100. He is not necessarily the kind of player that attracts a lot of love from prospect watchers, because his skills — control, composure, an effective changeup, fastball command — are not as highly regarded as mid to high 90s heat. However, there are many successful MLB pitchers who can’t throw in the high 90s, but very few who can’t properly command a fastball.
Hutchison is considered very polished for a 21 year old, with excellent fastball and change up command. He has a developing slider that Jays coaches say improved a lot in the last year. His fastball has good movement and sits around 90-92 mph. In a recent interview with John Farrell, the Jays manager said the areas where Hutchison needs the most improvement are his command of his slider and ability to hold runners.
Management spoke highly of Hutchison all off-season and it is clear that he is in the team’s long-term plans, even if his arrival was somewhat sooner than expected. Hutchison has a chance to succeed right away, but with only 31 innings pitched above A-ball, it might be a while before he is ready to stay in the majors for good.
Hutchison starts tomorrow night in Kansas City. Good luck kid!