Hughes experienced his own ups and downs with the Peoria Javelinas. He earned AFL pitcher-of-the-week honors after his first outing and started the league's all-star game, but he also got shelled by the Scorpions and missed a start with a torn fingernail.When you hear from some scouts the kid could be an ace, and when you hear from others he's a middle of the rotation guy.
Hughes mainly pitched off his 89-92 mph fastball and a plus curveball, a nice combination but not the 91-94 mph heater and knockout bender he showed down the stretch in Double-A two years ago. Whether he'll regain his premium stuff once he stays healthy for an extended period remains to be seen. Whether he can stay healthy is uncertain, too, though he hasn't had any arm-related problems since 2005, when he made two trips to the DL with shoulder tendinitis and a tired arm.
"I just don't see how he dominated the lower levels of the minors so thoroughly," a second scout said. "He's not overpowering at all. But he has a solid fastball and the curveball is OK. I don't see what all the fuss was about, but he's probably still a No. 3."
Even if he can't overpower hitters, Hughes still should be tough to hit. He has a good feel for his pitches and his mechanics, though he could use more deception and a steeper angle.
From what I've seen I think his curveball is better than just "OK," but I understand the concern with his velocity on his fastball. We haven't seen much since he hurt himself during the no-hitter in Texas, although he was touching 94 in the playoff game against the Indians.
I still think injuries have set him back a lot and even Callis admits that his stuff a few years ago was electric, the only question is can he regain that "premium stuff."
I also wonder if changing his mechanics, like the Yankees did a year or two ago, has hurt him. Maybe it has caused him to lose something off his stuff. Apparently it was done to improve his command, but I'm not sure that worked either.
I'm no scout so I can't say how good or bad he's going to be, but as I've said before, from what I've seen I think he can be pretty darn good. He just has to put it all together and learn how to pitch. Some scouts say the same thing, and others, like the scout quoted in the Callis article above, say something completely different. Who's right? Nobody knows yet, but we will find out soon enough.