Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Conflicting Reports on Hughes

Earlier in the week Peter Abraham reported that three scouts said that Phil Hughes was throwing 94-95 MPH with ease in the Arizona Fall League. This wasn't the first time this was reported this winter. Abraham also had reported it a few weeks ago, and Kevin Kernan mentioned it on XM Radio around the same time. These reports would lead you to believe that he's regained his overpowering stuff, but today Jim Callis of Baseball America had this to say:
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.

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.
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.

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.


Anonymous said...

It's good to see Hughes do......good.

Anonymous said...

There's no doubt Hughes has been frustrating at times, but again, he's 22. How many successful major league pitchers are 22 or less? There were only 20 pitchers to appear in the majors this year who are now 22 or younger. Of those 20, only 8 had an ERA under 5.00. Of those 8, only 4 were starters with at least 20 starts: Felix Hernandez, Jair Jurrjens, Clayton Kershaw, and Johnny Cueto.

So basically, there were two pitchers (Jurrjens and King Felix) age 22 or less who started 20 games and had an ERA under 4.00. Felix pitched in the worst offensive division in the AL, and Jurrjens pitched in the NL. In other words, I think too many people were expecting too much of Hughes too soon.

The conflicting reports could be as simple as certain scouts not seeing every game he's pitched. He had mixed results, so if you saw him with good stuff you gave him a good report, and if you saw him with bad stuff, a bad report. It could also be that someone doesn't like the Yankees.

That's seemed to be Hughes' whole career so far. Inconsistant. Inconsistant with command, velocity, location, etc. Hopefully as he gets older, and if he stays healthy, the consistancy will come.

Greg Cohen said...

You're absolutely right Pinstripes. His problem has been inconsistency. And with young pitchers that is to be expected.

Anonymous said...

Hughes will be great one day.

Greg Cohen said...

I hope so.

Mike B. said...

I don't know what to really think of him, but I've decided not to lose any sleep over it either way. We'll see what shakes out.


Anonymous said...

we hyped him up too much. for once we had a prospect with a lot of buzz and we expected the world out of him.

Anonymous said...

I think it's too early to make a final determination on a 22 year old kid, but what happened here seems to happen 'way too often: "He's a future #1, he's untouchable, we will not trade him, etc." As soon as a team says that, whether it's the pressure or just bad luck, the prospect rapidly becomes a suspect. Also, everyone seems to forget Melky was untouchable last offseason.......since he had the year he did AND Hughes was totally worthless while injured more than he wasn't, where would we be if they were both gone and we had Santana??? One word answer: playoffs.

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