Saturday, December 10, 2011

Meet Drew Hutchison, pitcher and pro scout

Now that NeMo is gone, let's open up the scouting report on Drew Hutchison, whose pinpoint control and strikeout pitches have the Blue Jays reserving a spot in their rotation. Hutchison was capped at 150 innings last season, and it didn't matter the Fisher Cats were entering the playoffs with Hutch sitting at 149.1 innings. He was done. As Toronto's No. 1 pitching prospect, he'll need to bring a passport to Double-A New Hampshire since the Blue Jays could be calling at any moment in 2012. We know Hutchison can pitch, but can he scout? I asked Drew to describe his stuff, and he obliged. Here's a look at Hutch on Hutch, beginning with his approach on the mound:

"My pitching style is very aggressive, often pitching to to contact and pounding down in the zone. I like to work fast, and I'm at my best when commanding my fastball and getting ahead of hitters."

On his fastball: "I throw a four-seam and two-seam. The four-seam doesn't have as much movement but has more velocity (92-94-mph). I use it to pound the zone, challenge hitters and get ahead in the count. My two-seam is a sinker (90-92-mph) with true sink and induces a lot of ground balls and weak contact. The command of my fastball is what comes first with me. It's the most important. The command of location can enhance and make each pitch better."

On his changeup: "I throw a modified circle-changeup. It has slight fade and depth away from left-handers and moves into right-handers. I use it to keep hitters off-balance and will throw when I'm ahead or behind in the count."

On his slider: "It's probably my most inconsistent pitch but might be my best pitch when it's on, moving with good, late depth. My goal is to refine that pitch and make it look the same as a fastball right until the end."

Fisher Cats manager Sal Fasano gave Hutchison three AA starts last season, and the 20-year-old responded with three wins, 15 innings, 10H, 2ER, 21K, 2W.

"He's fun to watch work. Very good stuff and commands both sides of the plate," Fasano told me today. "The slider is above average and he's got a good changeup. He has deceptive delivery in the way he throws across his body. Fierce competitor."

Drew Hutchison is about break a bat with this two-seam fastball. MiLB Photo

Here is how Hutchison stacks up with the American League East's top pitching prospects:

1. LHP Matt Moore, Rays -- Went berserk last season, racking up 79 strikeouts in 52.2 innings at Triple-A Durham. Made nine starts for the Bulls and went 4-0 (1.37 ERA). Next.

2. LHP Manny Banuelos, Yankees -- We've seen him pitch several times against the Fisher Cats. I know the little fella had control problems at AAA, but I'd still take him. 

3. RHP Drew Hutchison, Blue Jays -- Excellent command. Plus-slider. See above.

4. RHP Chris Archer, Rays -- Electric upper-90s stuff but still a work in progress. Was the big arm in Matt Garza trade.

5. RHP Dellin Betances, Yankees -- A beastly specimen at 6-foot-8, 250 pounds, Betances gets on top of his pitches and throws 95-97-mph. He's like watching a huge Little Leaguer pitching from 46 feet.

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