Colorado Rockies: Q&A with 2022 first-round draft pick Gabriel Hughes

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JULY 17: A general view of the MLB Draft '22 logo on the TV monitors in the Seattle Mariners interview room before the MLB Draft at T-Mobile Park on July 17, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JULY 17: A general view of the MLB Draft '22 logo on the TV monitors in the Seattle Mariners interview room before the MLB Draft at T-Mobile Park on July 17, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

The newest first-round draft pick by the Colorado Rockies as many of you know is right-handed pitcher Gabriel Hughes. While the son of Rockies legend Matt Holliday went No. 1 overall, Colorado has to be excited for the prospect of Hughes going at No. 10. The last time the Rockies selected a pitcher in the first 10 picks was Riley Pint in 2016. He retired in 2021 only to rejoin the organization last year.

You have to go back to the 2013 and 2014 drafts to for arguably the best pitching talent the Rockies have ever drafted with top picks in Jon Gray and Kyle Freeland, respectively. Rockies fans are hoping Hughes can break through like those players. Rox Pile’s Kevin Henry was one of the media members who recently got to know the first-round Gonzaga prospect a little better.

Q&A with Colorado Rockies first-round draft pick Gabriel Hughes

Hughes was asked what it was like to hear his name called by the Colorado Rockies. The righty described a state of pure happiness culminating with him and his parents crying tears of joy.

"“I’m just excited. You know, I’ve been ready to sign and ready to get going since I heard my name called. So I’m just, I’m relieved. I’m ready to get going,” Hughes said."

Hopefully Hughes makes it to the big leagues on an expedited path and if he does he would benefit from the leadership of a former pitcher being his manager in Bud Black. Not to get too far ahead, but Hughes was asked what it’d be like to have a manager that has walked a similar path in the majors.

"“Yeah, I mean, it’s huge. Just having someone who’s been there before and can kind of help me through the process because now this is really new to me,” he said. ” I know that whatever challenges are my way I’ll be able to ask someone for help.”"

Hughes prides himself on his competitiveness and is a big reason the Rockies drafted him. He said he’d like to be compared to Max Scherzer the way he has fire on the mound. But it is another big league pitcher that he might have a closer relationship with in former Gonzaga pitcher and Fort Collins standout Marco Gonzales.

The lefty now pitchers for the Seattle Mariners and his father is a coach in the Rockies organization. Gonzales reached out to Hughes in the hoop-la of this whole draft process. Hughes said he was appreciative of the excitement Gonzales displayed for him going to Colorado and will rely on him as a resource going forward.

Hughes’ pitching repertoire is fastball heavy while he does have a change and a slider. He was asked how comfortable he is getting with his secondary pitches.

"“I became a lot more comfortable to change up this season because this is the first season that I’ve thrown more than 10 and in an entire season. By the last game, I threw three in a row, which I’d never done before and to strike someone out,” Hughes said.“Moving forward, it lets you know that pitch mix is something I have to balance out a little more to not become as fastball heavy, but not that those are changes I’m excited to start making.”"

Asked if his fastball was clocked at 94-97 mph, Hughes took a more humble approach.

"“Yeah if you want to. That’s good. I say probably like 92-95 but if you want to go I’m not complaining,” he said with a laugh."

Looking back was there a moment that Hughes thought he could be a professional player?

"“Yeah, I think that moment for me it was last summer I was playing for Team USA. I’m sitting in this conference room and watching the first round of the draft and there are 20-25 guys. As we’re watching these guys get drafted., I’m sitting around looking like wow. These are all guys who are supposed to get drafted in the first or second round next year,” Hughes said.“I was like, I just want more. I’m in this room right now. Why not be in this room next year? I must be here for a reason. That was the turning point for me where I was like, maybe I could keep doing this after college.”"

Hughes got hit in the hand and made the decision to become a pitcher only. Was it a hard transition or was it exciting for the No. 10 pick?

"“No, it was it was a moment I knew was a long time coming. I went into college as a PO. So I kind of expected it. I did get to hit and I was really thankful for the coaches for allowing me that opportunity. But I kind of expected it. You know, I always liked pitching more. I was always better at pitching. And I always say my future was gonna be on the mound.”"

Hughes was an Idaho Player of the Year playing at Rocky Mountain High School in Meridian, Idaho. Are there any misconceptions about baseball in Idaho?

"I think the biggest one is that just no one comes out of Idaho. There haven’t been many but I’m more excited for who’s going to come next because Idaho is growing and baseball on the Treasure Valley where I’m from is growing. I know I’m not going to be the last so I’m excited for the next guys to come through.”"

Did you go to Boise Hawks games growing up?

"“I did. When they were the Cubs affiliate and when they were Rockies affiliate. My grandparents were host families when they were Rockies affiliates,” He said. “I met a couple of players like Bret Boswell (in Triple-A right now) and a couple of the coaches. So that was that was a really cool experience to be able to meet those guys when I was in high school.”"

Who were your mentors and coaches?

"“Yeah my high school pitching coach had coached me since he was since I was nine. He’s really influential and kind of given me the foundations of being a pitcher and teaching me like all the basic mechanics. I’ve been fortunate enough I can when I go home, I can work out with him and I can work on stuff with him. Brandon Harmon or Gonzaga, those two guys. Those two pitching coaches have been most influential in my career.”"

Next. Could Ezeqiuel Tovar make it to MLB in 2022?. dark

Hopefully he has many more mentors coming to develop this special prospect and he becomes the next great Gabriel in the lore of Colorado sports.