B-b-b-but didn’t they recently make a questionable decision to extend the contract of someone for just such a duty? Ah, well. It’s not my money.
Instead of the forever rehabbing Dustin McGowan, the Blue Jays will call on 21 year-old right-hander Drew Hutchison to make his Major League debut on Saturday evening against the Kansas City Royals.
A 15th round draft pick, in name only considering his $400,000 signing bonus, Hutchison boasts a four-seamer that reaches 94 miles per hour, a two-seamer in the low nineties/high eighties, an 84 miles per hour slider and a change up that Keith Law calls “plus dating back to when the Jays drafted him.”
That type of repertoire may not sound like anything special, but according to Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus:
Hutchison has good stuff, but what makes him stand out is his ability to locate his pitches. His fastball … plays up thanks to excellent movement and his ability to work all four quadrants of the strike zone with it.
Both Law and Goldstein project that Hutchison will make for a solid mid-rotation starter in the future. But by calling him up after less than 32 innings above A ball, the Blue Jays are putting more of an emphasis on the present by hoping that he can become the team’s fifth starter.
Frankly, I don’t like the idea of starting the service clock of a player who projects to be an important member of a team before it’s absolutely necessary, especially when one would figure that there’s still room for development.
In a perfect world where Hutchison gets called up, makes an impact and is never sent back down to the Minor Leagues again, he would remain under team control through the 2018 season. Since we’re more than ten days into the season, it’s safe to call him up without risking an early departure or having to buy out an early free agent year in a contract extension further on down the road. However, he would most certainly qualify for Super Two status, and end up costing the Jays an additional year of arbitration eligibility.
I felt similarly about Henderson Alvarez when the Blue Jays called him up last season and that was without the worry over eventual Super Two status. Despite those concerns, Alvarez has been something of a success story making the Opening Day rotation after his ten starts last season.
Of course, Alvarez had the benefit of pitching more than 370 innings of professional baseball before his call up, whereas Hutchison only has 230 innings under his belt. Again, I don’t quite understand the rush, but in this case I’ll hope that the Blue Jays front office is aware of something I am not.
Toronto fans would probably do well to limit their expectations though. In baseball history, 29 pitchers 21 years of age or younger, have contributed at least three rWAR in their initial season in the league. Only four from that list did so this millennium: Zack Greinke, Dontrelle Willis, Joel Zumaya and Huston Street. Only two those players were starters.
For more on Hutchison, check out DJF.