Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hughes Coming On Quick,
Adds New Pitch

Though his command could use a little greater consistency, Phil Hughes again pitched well in his first AAA start of 2008, tossing 68 pitches [40 for strikes] through 4.2 innings and allowing one earned run on three hits. Hughes is slated for 85 pitches during his next start Tuesday in Pawtucket.

More importantly, Phil's stuff appears to be back in the electric category as it is again being reported that he was hitting the mid-90s consistently with his fastball. Also, according to Chad Jennings, Hughes has added a cut-fastball to his arsenal which was around 87-89 mph [that's replaced a mediocre slider] and tossed a handful of changeups.

Here's what my boy Dan Graziano reported as he was on assignment in Scranton tonight:
A scout who's here tonight said the scoreboard radar gun at this park can fluctuate unreliably. According to this guy's gun, Hughes' fastball was in the 94-95 mph range in the first three innings and then in the 91-93 range thereafter. The scout also said Hughes' curveball looked good, and that his slider sometimes looked a little more like a cutter, which he speculated was probably unintentional and a result of rust.
If you haven't already read the Baseball Prospectus report from Phil's last rehab start in Charleston, it's pretty obvious that BP and the scouts in attendance that night were thoroughly impressed with where Hughes' stuff was at:
Philip Hughes, RHP, Low-A Charleston (Yankees)
Technically, he's not really a prospect any more, but he's still a young unproven player. Based on what Hughes showed on Saturday, though, he could be a factor in the post-season race. Once the top pitching prospect in the game, Hughes made his second rehab appearance since coming back from a rib injury, absolutely dominating Sally League hitters on Saturday, allowing one hit in 3 2/3 shutout innings while striking out five. More important was how good Hughes' stuff was, as his fastball sat in the low 90s and consistently touched 94-95—the kind of velocity he showed frequently in the minors, but rarely with the Yanks. While neither he nor Ian Kennedy have played the expected roles at the big-league level this year, they both might come September.
Mr. Hughes looks like he's back in the building which begs the question: has Hughes reverted back to the mechanics he used in 2006? I sure hope it is the case as I've already heard rumors Phil is back to the more athletic 3/4 armslot he began with as opposed to the more over-the-top delivery he'd been using of late. If you want to read a longwinded discussion of Phil's mechanics and velocity issues, feel free to check out this post from last year.

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