MLB Draft Profile: Gabriel Hughesby John Lepore May 21, 2022 1 comment
Gabriel Hughes was a dominant two-way player at Rocky Mountain High School in Idaho. He went 14-2 over his Junior and Senior seasons with a sub-2.00 ERA while also batting over .400. Unfortunately, he wasn’t selected in the 2019 draft. Hughes chose to go to Gonzaga and has concentrated solely on pitching in 2022. It has been working out pretty well.
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Gabriel Hughes, Pitcher, Gonzaga
Weight: 230 lbs.
DOB: August 22, 2001
2021 Stats: 10 G, 4-3, 3.23 ERA, 61.1 IP, 30 BB, 67 K, 1.272 WHIP
2022 Stats: 13 G, 8-1, 2.62 ERA, 86 IP, 32 BB, 124 K, 1.07 WHIP
Hughes has improved his control as he has gotten used to being on the mound and not having to worry about hitting. He dropped his BB rate from 11.4 percent in 2021 to 9.3 percent this season. The big right-hander has also increased his strikeout rate from 25.5 to 35.9. The progression has him in the top 20 on MLB.com’s list, and Hughes may get into the top 10 as one of the best college arms in the draft.
Hughes’s improvement hasn’t just been because he is hitting his spots better and not walking as many hitters. It is also due to the fact that his secondary stuff has gotten better with more focus. He throws his fastball in the mid-90s and may hit triple digits on occasion with a little more strength. His slider is already an out-pitch with excellent movement and velocity at around 89 mph. Hughes has developed feel for his changeup and uses it as a weapon. He can tail it away from lefties in the high 70s. The curveball is a work in progress as the Gonzaga ace doesn’t throw it much. It could turn into an above-average fourth pitch which would give him quite an arsenal.
Hughes has the size at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds to be a reliable starter. He keeps his velocity deep into games and pitches with a controlled rage. His command is getting better and better, and he already has improved immensely on his control. With a fairly easy delivery, Hughes’s mechanics stay in sync, and he doesn’t lose himself for long stretches.
The only knock on Hughes would be that he has only recently gotten his control in line. He will face more selective hitters as he moves up. When those batters do swing, they will be more likely to do damage as opposed to some of the college players Hughes has faced.
Pro Comparison: Max Scherzer
Yes, I know, it’s Mad Max who will be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. However, if you look at Scherzer’s pitch mix when he came up, it is similar to what Hughes throws. Eventually, Max developed a solid curveball and it brought him to the next level of his career. Hughes has a chance to have that four-pitch mix when he gets to the majors, and he is a bit bigger and stronger than Scherzer was.
Draft Prediction: New York Mets, Round 1, Pick 11
With the compensation they got from not signing Kumar Rocker last year, the Mets go with another big righty. Hughes is a better pitcher with a wider repertoire than Rocker. He also has no injury history, aside from a broken knuckle while he was batting in 2021. Hughes is simply the best college arm in the draft. He is big, has an easy delivery, and can pound the zone with three pitches currently. Hughes may be the first pitcher off the board.
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