The speed of Augusta junior Garrett Hutson’s pitches is what snags attention. After a look at just how fast Hutson can throw, how could you possibly look away?
Hutson took nearly three months off from pitching before the season began to rest his arm, and he is throwing consistently around 88-89 mph. He expects to have his velocity up to 90-92 mph by May and figures he’ll hit 94, which he threw last year, by the summer.
“I played against him my whole life in the summer,” said Ian Rogers, an Augusta senior first baseman and pitcher. “He’s always been the kid who can throw really, really hard. It was always, ‘oh crap, are we going to have to face this guy?’ ”
There likely are plenty of hitters who have similar thoughts flitting through their minds as they step to the plate.
Hutson made an oral commitment to play at Oklahoma State in January, a few months after he decommitted from Wichita State. At 6-foot, 185 pounds, the right-hander could be a high pick in the 2015 Major League draft. The scouting organization Perfect Game has ranked Hutson the 45th best player in the class of 2015.
The key is Hutson’s pitching velocity, along with an impressive effortlessness in putting movement on the ball. He also throws strikes, and always has.
“I didn’t pitch, so he did not learn anything from me,” said Hutson’s dad, Gabe. “I showed him the basics, he picked up on it and he was able to throw strikes. Any ball, he could throw it wherever he wanted to.”
Hutson, also a shortstop, helped lead Circle to third place in Class 4A in 2013 before transferring to Augusta in September for what he called personal reasons. Hutson struck out nine in the Thunderbirds’ first-round win and finished the season with 91 strikeouts, a school record. He hit .417 and had 28 steals, 32 RBIs.
In Augusta’s season opener against Mulvane on March 29, Hutson threw five innings, struck out 10 and gave up one earned run. He was scheduled to start against El Dorado on Thursday night.
“Yes, God reached down and blessed his arm — ‘this kid will throw hard,’ ” Augusta coach Doug Jefferson said. “… He throws harder than anyone else in our league (Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail). And in that, he has pretty good control with it. He’s the fastest pitcher you face, and he controls it.”
The Hutsons are focused on ensuring Garrett’s career is handled correctly. They have an adviser, as many top baseball prospects do, to help guide them through what can be a confusing maze leading up to the draft, and to help decide if college will be a better option than taking the money out of high school.
Hutson has gotten offer after offer to play in showcases, so his adviser works with his schedule and has pointed him in the best direction to be noticed. A nutritionist sends him a meal plan, a personal trainer sends him monthly workouts.
In June he will play in Fort Myers, Fla., at an invitation-only showcase that will garner Hutson more attention.
Hutson knows there are people checking into him, to see what kind of a citizen he is. And some probably question him decommitting from Wichita State.
“WSU was the very first college to offer me,” Hutson said. “Basically my hometown, all my family and friends would be able to watch me, that was pretty exciting to me. I jumped on it really quick … I might have jumped the gun a little bit. I talked with Coach (Todd) Butler and said I didn’t think I was ready and I needed to look at other colleges.”
Gabe Hutson cautions his son about social media because it’s so easy to check up on a recruit. As for any other issues, the Hutsons say the adviser is hugely helpful.
“We went to an adviser basically for the connections and some of the little stuff that I would never have thought of,” Hutson said. “Let’s says for the draft process, their advice — there’s so much advice — is that there are questions you should never answer. I think you should answer the questions, a normal kid would answer the questions.
“You almost have to play the game. They’re trying to get all the information they can. What an adviser wants them to do is keep them coming back, see you as much as possible. It’s just a lot of little stuff.”
The process can be overwhelming with the phone calls, e-mails and texts, but Garrett Hutson has kept one thing constant throughout — his work ethic.
Hutson has played for an Oklahoma team, the Midwest Warducks, the past three summers, and now what pushes him is the level of talent he sees when he plays around the country.
“When I was playing with older kids, I had to keep working harder and harder to keep up with them,” he said. “What I have is definitely a gift, but … I always keep my work ethic up. In the back of my head I’m thinking, ‘someone out there is probably working harder, too.’ ”
Hutson is an outstanding athlete. He’s a stellar shortstop, and he played quarterback as a freshman and sophomore at Circle.
He plans to play football his senior season at Augusta, and pick up basketball again, which he hasn’t played in high school.
But should Hutson play either sport, risking an injury that could derail his career?
Hutson knows the risks, but he loves both sports and knows his senior year will be the last time he’ll be able to play another sport.
“(The adviser) says football is a bad idea,” Hutson said. “I haven’t talked about basketball as much. I’m sure they’ll think it’s a bad idea.
“Football, I always played it, and I missed it. I want to play it as long as I can. And basketball, I haven’t played it at all (in high school).”
Hutson is a normal teenager, loves to laugh and joke around. But when practice starts, seriousness sets in.
During fielding drills with Augusta, if Hutson messes up with a bobble or a throw that’s off a bit, he doesn’t resign himself to the mistake and go to the back of the line. He stays there until he does it perfectly.
His focus has rubbed off on his teammates, especially the younger players.
“It’s the biggest (positive) for me,” Augusta’s Jefferson said. “It’s not, ‘I’m not good enough, I’ll get it next time.’ No, he goes right back to where he was and makes sure he does it correctly.”
Rogers added: “He does it all right. All the little things. And all the little stuff adds up.”