Hughes signs with Rockies
June 29, 2011
CASPER, Wyo. - The Colorado Rockies on Wednesday reached an agreement with their 10th-round draft pick and former St. Olaf right-handed pitcher Ben Hughes.
Hughes, who became the highest draft in school history going one round ahead of Andrew Schmiesing (11th round to Twins in 2007), has joined the Rockies' rookie (adv.) affiliate Casper in the Pioneer League. Hughes is expected to be a part of the Ghosts' starting rotation.
Hughes, the MIAC's pitcher of the year this spring, compiled a 7-1 record with a 2.50 ERA in 10 appearances in 2011. He struck out 83 against a mere 19 walks in 57 2/3 innings of work. He had three complete games, including two shutouts, and amassed at least 10 strikeouts in five of his 10 appearances.
He was also named Rawlings First Team All-Midwest Region and was a D3baseball.com All-America honorable mention selection.
Hughes burst onto the draft boards last summer, when he posted a 2.50 ERA in 15 appearances for Duluth of the Northwoods League. He was an all-star for the Huskies and struck out the only two batters he faced in the league's all-star game. He pitched once for Duluth this season, throwing six scoreless innings while striking out eight in a season-opening win over St. Cloud on June 1.
Hughes was 318th pick overall and the 11th of the Rockies. He was the fifth pitcher taken by Colorado, who used six of their first eight selections on position players.
He was the fourth Minnesotan taken in the draft, following the University of Oregon's Madison Boer (Eden Prairie - 2nd Rd., 87th overall), St. Cloud State's Jordan Smith (Willmar - 9th, 278) and Oklahoma State's Mike Strong (Stillwater - 10th, 311). Hughes was the first NCAA Division III player taken in the event. UW-Stevens Point's Cody Koback was selected just four spots after Hughes by Boston.
The St. Louis Park, Minn.-native becomes the eighth St. Olaf player to play professionally since 2002, joining Collin Brackeen '97 (TOR, Ind), Brian Sprout '02 (LAD, Ind), Dan LaManna '02 (Ind), Mike Ludwig '03 (LAD), Charlie Ruud '04 (Ind), Andrew Schmiesing '08 (MIN, Ind) and Todd Mathison '09 (Ind). Brackeen went in the 14th round to Toronto, Schmiesing was an 11th-round selection of the Twins in 2007 and Ludwig a 37th-round pick of the Dodgers in 2003. Sprout played two seasons in the Northern League with Joliet and Fargo-Moorhead before being signed by the Dodgers in 2003 (and eventually returning to the league in 2006).
LaManna, Ruud and Mathison played with independent teams. Ruud had the longest career (2005-2009) of the three, becoming the St. Paul Saints all-time leader in wins, innings and strikeouts.