Rockies’ Gabriel Hughes Could Be A Quick Mover

As righthander Gabriel Hughes prepared for his first full professional season, he again impressed the Rockies with his size, stuff, presence and makeup. Those assets led the Rockies to draft Hughes 10th overall last year out of Gonzaga.

That school is located in Spokane, Wash., where Hughes will start the season with the Rockies’ High-A affiliate after briefly pitching for Low-A Fresno last year.

After Hughes pitched 98 innings for Gonzaga last year, the Rockies were cautious with him. He made his pro debut on Sept. 10 by working three scoreless innings for Fresno and followed that with a playoff start. 

The 21-year-old Hughes made a memorable Cactus League debut on March 20 in a start against the Dodgers. He faced the minimum number of hitters in three scoreless innings and began the one-hit, four-strikeout outing by striking out David Peralta, Chris Taylor and Jason Heyward.

“He’s continued to basically justify the (first-round) pick, and everything has been rainbows and unicorns so far, which we know won’t last,” Rockies assistant farm director Jesse Stender said. “It never does in this game. But he has shown up incredibly well.

“He has every opportunity to be a quick, quick mover.”

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Hughes throws a 93-97 mph four-seam fastball that he works to all four quadrants and can utilize for strikeouts up in the zone where he is most confident with the pitch. His repertoire also includes a 92-95 mph cutter, an 85-87 mph slider, which while inconsistent has wipeout flashes, and a work-in-progress changeup. 

To get a head start on spring training and the 2023 season, Hughes rented in Scottsdale, Ariz., this offseason, enabling him to work out at the Rockies’ facility with the many major and minor leaguers in the organization who winter and train there.

“Yeah, he’s confident, walks around like a dude,” Stender said, “but he’s thirsty for more (information) and he’s a good teammate and he’s there for others. So he goes about it the right way.

“As far as the presence goes, on and off the mound it’s special.”


— Healthy after missing last season to Tommy John surgery, reliever Jacob Kostyshock was outstanding in spring training and pitching like the prospect the Rockies envisioned when they drafted him in the eighth round in 2019 out of Arkansas. The Rockies see the 25-year-old as someone who could rise quickly. After appearing in 14 games for Rookie-level Grand Junction in 2019 with 17 strikeouts and two walks in 16.1 innings and not pitching in 2020 when the pandemic canceled the season, Kostyshock injured his right elbow in April 2021 in spring training. He tried to take the conservative path of rehab to avoid surgery before having TJ in October 2021.

— Right shoulder inflammation could sideline catcher Willie MacIver until well into May. The 26-year-old, who was scheduled to begin the season as the primary catcher at Triple-A Albuquerque, has no structural damage to his shoulder and will not need surgery. His shoulder bothered him in mid January at a pitching camp the Rockies held at their complex in Scottsdale, Ariz. The Rockies told MacIver to cease throwing. But since he was invited to big league camp as a nonroster player, he ramped up his throwing to prepare for that opportunity and tried to push through it. The Rockies shut MacIver down when they assigned him to minor league camp on March 13. 

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