Hutchison hot in Florida

Drew Hutchison of the class-A Dunedin Blue Jays. (EDDIE MICHELS photo)

Drew Hutchison of the class-A Dunedin Blue Jays. (EDDIE MICHELS photo)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:38 PM ET

TORONTO - Two years ago this week, Drew Hutchison arrived in Dunedin.

Rather than head to campus, he was headed for a school of upper learning on the six-pack of mounds at the Bobby Mattick training facility.

He was another one of the 11th-hour, pre-deadline Blue Jays signings, along with outfielder Jake Marisnick, first baseman K.C. Hobson and right-hander Daniel Webb.

Hutchison passed on a scholarship to Stetson University when Jays scout Joel Grampietro and scouting director Jon Lalonde gave him a $400,000 US signing bonus. He signed a contract for 2010.

“We watched the last two weeks (of 2009 season) and got ready for instructional in the fall,” Hutchison said this week.

What advice would he give to new arrivals such as Dwight Smith Jr., Kevin Comer, Daniel Norris, John Stilson and Christian Lopes, who all signed before the Aug. 15 deadline?

“They should enjoy it, listen, try to pick up upon everything they can,” Hutchison said. “I learned a lot the first time from pitching coaches Dane Johnson and Tom Signore working on the basics. Signore was awesome.”

Two years ago, the 15th-rounder arrived in Dunedin. He awakes today still in Dunedin.

The fact he still is in Dunedin does explain the progress he has made. On Sunday, he faced the game’s highest-paid player, Alex Rodriguez, who was with the Tampa Yankees on a rehab assignment.

Rodriguez, who had homered off Dunedin’s Willie Collazo the night before, struck out twice against Hutchison (“a 1-2 slider and a 3-2 fastball”) and walked on a 3-2 pitch.

The right-hander took the loss in a 7-2 defeat, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks, striking out nine in six innings, leaving with Dunedin losing 3-1.

Marisnick, Hobson and Webb are in Lansing, a level below Hutchison on the Jays’ organizational ladder.

To get to Dunedin in 2009 it was a hike down I-4 from his home in Lakeland, Fla., where he earned all-county first team high school honours and third team all-state honours.

Hutchison says his record in his final year of high school was 6-2.

“I remember the two losses well,” he said. “One to Winter Haven, the other to Tampa Alonso in the regional semifinal.”

Unlike most prospects, he credits his mother for his athletic genes. His mother Kelly, who teaches children the dangers of alcohol and drug use, golfed and played softball at Florid Southern University. His father Scott, who works for OMS insurance, played soccer.

A year ago Hutchison split time between class-A Auburn and Lansing, making 15 starts. He had an overall 2-3 record with a 2.49 ERA. He walked 19 and struck out 63 in 682/3 innings.

He started this season at Lansing, going 6-2 in 14 starts and has now he’s appeared in 10 games at class-A Dunedin.

Overall in 2011, Hutchison has gone 10-5, with a 2.71 ERA, in 24 games. He has walked only 32 and fanned 144 in 1291/3 innings.

Impressive for someone who was recruited by Stetson as a shortstop/pitcher.

“My last year of high school, I didn’t do too well offensively,” Hutchison said. “The Jays always wanted me to pitch. It’s been a quick two years.”

Promoted to Dunedin, he reeled off a 42-inning streak without allowing an earned run. That came to an end when he relieved rehabbing Dustin McGowan, allowing the Lakeland Flying Tigers two runs in the sixth and five in the seventh.

“It was nice to pitch in my home town in front of family and friends, but I don’t think it affected my outing,” Hutchison said. “Giving up my first earned runs came to not getting my pitches to do what I wanted.”

Throw out his relief appearance and Florida State League hitters are batting .191 against Hutchison in nine starts.

On draft day and at the bank come bonus time, players may line up in order.

Once plays begins, everyone has the same chance.

It doesn’t matter if you are a 15th-rounder or a first-rounder, 10 wins and 42 innings without allowing an earned run is impressive.

Team notes

- New Hampshire catcher Travis d’Arnaud wasn’t a Futures Games selection at the all-star game in Phoenix, however, USA Baseball has tabbed d’Arnaud to catch at the World Cup this fall in Panama. He is hitting .365 with four doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs this month and on the season, he is hitting .326, third in the league. Teammate Anthony Gose is hitting .271 with three doubles, three homers and four steals, 52 on the season.

- Jose Bautista’s pal Ricardo Nanita is having his best month of the season in Las Vegas, hitting .395 with two doubles, three homers and a team-high 13 RBIs this month. Former No. 1 pick David Cooper leads the Pacific Coast League with a .377 average.

- Brad Glenn has helped Dunedin move into first place in the Florida State League’s North Division, leading the league with 23 homers. Sean Ochinko had eight doubles and eight RBIs this month, giving him 31 doubles on the season.

- The Lansing Lugnuts have enjoyed a solid month thanks to Casey Lawrence, 2-0, with a 1.71 ERA, walking one and fanning out 18 in 21 innings. Jake Marisnick is batting .375 with two triples, two homers and seven steals.

- First baseman Kevin Patterson has hit three homers this month for Vancouver, while Justin Nicolino continues to lead the league with a 1.14 ERA, walking 11 and striking out 61 in 47 1/3 innings.


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