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Treasure Valley native drafted tenth overall to Rockies

Gabriel Hughes.JPG
Posted at 1:36 PM, Jul 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-18 21:25:22-04

BOISE, Idaho  — Treasure Valley native and Gonzaga graduate, Gabriel Hughes, was drafted No. 10 overall in the Major League Baseball draft to the Colorado Rockies organization Sunday Night.

Hughes pitched at Rocky Mountain High School in Meridian, where he won Gatorade Idaho Baseball player of the year twice in his time there.

At Gonzaga, Hughes majored in biology and planned to go to medical school. He didn’t see himself making it to the professional level until he pitched for team USA in the summer of 2021. He looked at the players around him that were all projected to be top draft picks and thought he could be the same.

“I'm in this room right now, why not be in this room a year from now?” Hughes said. “That was kind of the moment for me where it kind of clicked and I was like, ‘Maybe I’m going to have a chance to keep playing after college.’”

Medical school would have been a possibility for him as it only took him three years to graduate from Gonzaga.

Hughes’ academic success is something that his longtime coach, Chris Frith, said sets him apart on the field.

“Players that are that driven academically typically are players that have that same work ethic, drive, desire, and confidence on the baseball field,” Frith said.

The 6-foot-4-inch right-hander’s fastball can reach almost 100 mph. In his senior season, he pitched 98 innings, striking out 138 batters and giving up 35 earned runs.

That last season was his first full season focusing solely on pitching, after suffering a season-ending injury from batting.

“I wanted to continue pitching, and (the Gonzaga coaches) wanted me to be as solid as possible on the mound,” Hughes said. “That's when I started just pitching. I was really thankful of the two years I got as a hitter but I was always going to be a pitcher and I knew that”

The decision paid off as MLB Commisioner Rob Manfred called his name. The 10th overall pick has a slot value of $4.98 million.

The money isn’t why Hughes fell in love with the game though. Hughes originally was drawn to the competitive aspect that sports could offer. Hughes’ competitive spirit is unmistakable when you watch him on the mound, as he struts off the mound after striking out a batter to end an inning.

“That’s just the way I’ve been my whole life,” Hughes said. “I just hate losing. I hate losing more than anything in the world. When I was nine, my team lost the first game we played that spring and I cried after because I hated it so much. And then my mom told me if I ever cried again she’d pull me out of baseball.”

The MLB draft continues through Tuesday.