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Sports >  Gonzaga athletics

Gonzaga’s Gabriel Hughes selected by Colorado Rockies at No. 10 overall in 2022 MLB draft

July 17, 2022 Updated Sun., July 17, 2022 at 9:31 p.m.

Gonzaga pitcher Gabriel Hughes (45) warms his hand during the game against Santa Clara in Spokane on Friday, May 13, 2022.  (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga pitcher Gabriel Hughes (45) warms his hand during the game against Santa Clara in Spokane on Friday, May 13, 2022. (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)
By Justin Reed For The Spokesman-Review

It didn’t take long for Gabriel Hughes to hear his name in the 2022 MLB draft.

In the first outdoor draft in MLB history, commissioner Rob Manfred strolled to the lectern to announce the Colorado Rockies had selected the 6-foot-4 right hander from Gonzaga with the 10th overall pick on Sunday – higher than many might’ve expected.

Hughes had been projected as a first-round draft pick for months as he shredded through opposing batters in his junior season, but most mock drafts had him toward the end of the first round.

Hughes became the highest-drafted Bulldog in school history, surpassing Seattle pitcher Marco Gonzales who was drafted by the Mariners 19th in 2013.

As a bonus, landing with Colorado sets up Hughes with a chance to continue playing in Spokane if the Rockies place him with their High-A affiliate – the Spokane Indians.

In the days of MLB’s secondary draft, Mike McNeilly went No. 10 overall to Atlanta in January of 1972 before going No. 3 overall to the Mets in June of 1972. Then, in January of 1975, Lenn Sakata went 10th overall to Milwaukee.

Hughes, the Eagle, Idaho, native and Rocky Mountain High School graduate, was pegged as the 20th-best prospect, according to MLB.com and 26th by D1Baseball.com.

He is now the fourth player from Idaho selected in the first round and the state’s second-highest draft pick.

The others are Caldwell High’s Mike Garman (third overall, 1967), Lewis-Clark State’s Beau Mills (13th overall, 2007) and Madison High’s Clayton Mortensen (36th overall, 2007).

Hughes was a Gatorade Player of the Year twice during his Rocky Mountain career.

In his final Bulldog season, Hughes was named an All-American by Baseball America, D1Baseball.com and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. He was also semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, which is given to the country’s top player.

In 2022, he started 15 games, finishing 8-3 with a 3.21 ERA, throwing 98 innings, racking up 138 strikeouts – good for ninth in the country – with an almost 4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

His delivery is smooth and easily replicated with a fastball between 94 and 97 mph with a wipeout slider that reaches 90 mph. His change-up is a work in progress, but he gained increased confidence in the pitch throughout the 2022 season.

The Rockies’ 10th pick has a value of just over $4.9 million, meaning they could give Hughes that as a signing bonus without incurring a penalty.

Fellow Zags pitchers Trystan Vrieling and William Kempner are still awaiting their names to be called. Vrieling was MLB.com’s 92nd-ranked player entering the draft.

The 2022 MLB draft will continue Monday at 11 a.m. and a livestream will be available on MLB.com.

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