Hughes not sharp in Rising Stars effort


Phil Hughes, the promising but seemingly inconsistent Yanks youngster, made the start in the AFL’s Rising Stars showcase last night. He threw three innings but did not have his best stuff. He allowed four runs — but just one earned — on three hits and two walks. Two of those three hits were home runs. While he did strike out three, he threw just 27 of 50 pitches for strikes.

For Hughes, this effort was another in a recent spate of sub-par efforts. In the long run, AFL stats don’t account for anything; the whole purpose of Hughes’ stint in Arizona is to ensure him the innings he needs after he missed much of the season to an injury. Until we hear some first-hand scouting reports though, all we have to go on are the numbers, and a 54 percent strike rate is not what we’d like to see.

Update by Mike (1:05pm): Ben beat me to it, so I’m just going to tack on the rest of DotF here. Austin Jackson started in center and batted leadoff in said Rising Stars Showcase, going 0 for 1 with a walk, a strikeout, and a stolen base. The National team won the game when Reds’ prospect Drew Stubbs drew a walk-off bases loaded walk, an inning after Mets’ prospect Eddie Kunz blew the save by allowing all three inherited runners to score.

Jeremy Bleich took the mound for Waikiki, and had another strong outing: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, throwing 58 of 86 pitches for strikes (67.4%). Bleich walked his first batter since October 4th, and over his last three starts he’s allowed just 13 baserunners in 19.2 IP, striking out 19 in the process. Impressive since he apparently needs elbow surgery.

Categories : Down on the Farm


  1. Steve H says:

    And he only throws 91 mph.

  2. Marc says:

    Context can clearly make or break you.

    The one major thing that needs to be understood is that the fields they are playing at have home run fences of roughly ~300ft. While a 300ft hit to the far right corner of Yankee stadium may be a homerun, those hits to any other part of the stadium are a fly ball out. I watched Hughes pitch 2 weeks ago(Monday the 13th), and the one run he gave up would have been a lazy fly ball to left field in Yankee Stadium. Instead it was a homerun that just barely cleared the park. Lets say that the two homeruns were in center field and they became fly ball outs. Then his line would look like 3IP, 0ER, and 3H. Not too shabby.

  3. The Scout says:

    I’m not going to rush to judge Hughes either way at this point. I do believe he and the Yankees would be better served if he were to begin next season in AAA, pitching regularly and learning to command a wider repretoire of pitches. Among the challenges a pitcher faces is learning to succeed in whatever ballpark he’s pitching in that day — with a short wall like the Green Monster in left, a short porch in right like Yankee Stadium, the wind blowing out, etc.

    • Old Ranger says:

      Except I think his days in AAA are over with…he dominates AAA, what can he learn. They (AAA) will swing at pitches the big boys will let go for a ball, and hit the so-so pitches out. 27/09.

  4. Old Ranger says:

    Context can clearly make or break you.

    I can buy that, besides if I remember right, he was sent there to work on his secondary pitches and innings. In other words, work, work, work…it can only help him in the long run. I believe he will be needed in 2009 for the team to make any headway…pitching is king (along w/defence).
    We are going to lose some power/OBP hitting (Jason, Bobby), we need good pitching and defence to make up for it. If this stint in the winter leagues helps Phil be a better pitcher, so be it. Obtaining CC looks like a downer, we need some guys to step up and show they can do the job. They need not be 20 game winners, just keep us in the games they pitch and give us innings. 27/09.

  5. Joseph M says:

    To a certain extent we may have been sold a bill of goods with Hughes. We were led to believe that this was a major league ready top end of the rotation guy. How did we get from there to explaining away some dreary AFL results. I think we need to move forward hoping that Hughes can compete for the 5th starter slot. If he makes it fine, if not, he goes to triple A and we see how he does. If we get some offers over the winter, or he is needed in a package to solve an area of concern then that will have to be evaluated.

    He is still a prospect, he is no longer an untouchable and we hope for the best.

  6. mos says:

    How does someone allow two homeruns, but get only a single earned run?

    • christopher says:

      inning continued because of an error – batter than hits a homerun.

      stupid rule – a homerun is a homerun and should be an earned run at all times

    • Mike A. says:

      It’s a dumb rule. There was error in the inning, and the homers came with two outs. Theoretically the inning should have been over, so they count any runs scored by runners who reached base after the error as unearned.

      It’s totally retarded, how can you call a homerun unearned?

  7. christopher says:

    I know it sounds like panic, but I believe that the Yanks need to use him as trade bait – he and cano in a package for peavy if possible

    if they are able to sign two of the big four – sabathia, sheets, lowe, or burnett than use him to attempt to trade for a 1B or OF.

    I am not saying that they give him away, but if they can get talent anywhere near johan santana talent pull the trigger

  8. Senor A. Boy says:

    I didn’t know Bleich needs elbow surgery. Is it Tommy John?

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

      Henry Rowengartner surgery.

    • Mike A. says:

      I was being sarcastic. Bill Madden wrote an article blasting the Yanks’ draft strategy a few weeks ago, mentioning that Gerrit Cole’s dad was a billionaire (and the Yanks should have known he wouldn’t accept their millions) and that Bleich needed TJ, both of which are completely false.

      • Lanny says:

        I don’t see that it matters if a draftees family is rich. Your dream is to play pro baseball and you get drafted by the best organization in the game with everything first class.

        How don’t you sign just based on opportunity?

        • Thomas says:

          I agree. Wouldn’t you take the opportunity knowing even if you fail that your father is still a billionaire and you don’t have to worry about money?

          I’d say it makes less sense for someone like Bleiche to leave early. If he gets hurt or something, he essentially has his signing bonus and three years of college. Not exactly a foolproof backup plan.

  9. Connor says:

    ^^^ since when did Bleich need surgery?

  10. JeffG says:

    What has Albalandejo been up to? What happened to Patterson? Do you think Coke will be decent this year? Outlook for Sanchez? Cox?

    • Mike A. says:

      Albaladejo came back at the end of the year from his elbow injury, pitched in rehab games with Staten Island and Scranton. Patterson was DFA’ed and claimed on waivers by the Padres. He was pitching out of their bullpen in September.

      Decent is the right word for Coke, I’m not expecting him to be as good as he was in Sept. over a full year. Sanchez and Cox will probably both start the year in AAA, hopefully Sanchez will be starting. If not, both will be coming out of the pen.

  11. Nick says:

    I’m not ready to give up on Hughes, I still think he’ll be a top of the rotation starter by 2011. Also, I have concerns with Peavy: read KLaw on the world wide leader for details.

    However, I was thinking about the mid-nineties dynasty and the most important home grown pitchers…there was Pettite, Rivera, and Mendoza but the yanks also got great value by trading away prospects:

    Marty Janzen netted David Cone
    Matt Drews was used to get Cecil Fielder
    Sterling Hitchcock for Tino Martinez
    Eric Milton for Chuck Knkoblauch
    Jake Westbrook for David Justice

    Except for Justice, even in hindsight, the trades were steals for the yanks.

    If a great offer is out there for Hughes, I think the yanks have to at least consider it.

    • Lanny says:

      And Cashman isn’t trading Hughes. It ain’t gonna happen. He’s not changing his philosophy after one yr and for one guy. He’s building thru the system with high end pitching and big game hunting free agents and trades.

      Those guys you listed in trades were NEVER in Hughes league in terms of stuff and talent. Theres a reason he was the #1 pitching prospect. Some guys take a little longer to develop and the nightmare is that we trade him and watch him develop into a 20 game winner someplace else.

      They obv believe he has frontline stuff/capabilities or they would have traded him last yr.

      • Nick says:

        I disagree with you saying that none of those prospects were in Hughes’ class. Prior to 1996, Drews was either top 5 or top 10 prospects in the game (by ESPN), Milton was thought to have Pettite like upside (those were the comparisons, whether or not they were valid is another story).

        I don’t remember Hitchcock’s expected ceiling, but I remember the yanks getting killed for trading him away…he’s left handed and just came off of a solid year in the bigs.

        Janzen’s status I don’t recall at all, but SI ran a story after the trade about how in a few years the yanks would regret dealing him. Probably just sportswriter cheese, and not a realistic projection.

        Westbrook wasn’t in his class, but yanks were high on him, and of all of them he probably has turned out the best of the lot. In the grand scheme of things, the yanks would be quite fortunate if Hughes can be as good as Westbrook.

    • Thomas says:

      Just for reference, Westbrook was trade with Ricky Ledee and Zach Day, which was a good haul for Justice. Ledee was actually the centerpiece and a top prospect that failed to work out. Zach Day looked like a promising middle of the rotation starter before injuries derailed his career. Obviously Westbrook has been solid, except for injuries.

      Of course David Justice was very good for the Yankees for half a season. But the Yankees could have really been killed in that deal.

      • Lanny says:

        I wouldn’t see that Ledee didn’t work out. He had some nice years here and in other places. The expectations may have been a lil much but thats comes from being a Yankee prospect.

        I’d take a title for 7 yrs of a Jake Westbrook type. But hey that’s me.

      • Nick says:

        I agree they could have. But there is no way they make it to the playoffs that year without David Justice. I believe they only one the division by a game or two, and Justice was unreal after joining the yankees. Plus, he hit the big homer off of Arthur Rhodes in the series against the Mariners.

        Even if all of the players traded turned out to the stars, I would still support the trade, because without it, there is no ring.

        • Thomas says:

          I agree take the ring. But most people just forget about Ledee and Day, because they ended on different teams and weren’t overly successful.

          I was just pointing out, they could have really been killed in that trade and it is not so cut and dry as a lot of people look at it.

          • Nick says:

            Valid point.

            Part of my thoughts, which I really didn’t elaborate on at all, is that if the yanks can get good value, they need to consider it. I’m not suggesting a Fred McGriff for Dale Murray type trade (nor Drabek for Rick Rhoden for that matter), but the prospect of trading him can’t be dismissed. There are a lot of holes to fill this year, and the next few, and there aren’t that many good positions in the higher parts of the system.

    • Aaron says:

      Knoblauch was brought in by trading away Milton, Cristian Guzman, and another prospect wasn’t he? I know there was more to that deal than simply Milton.

  12. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    Mike, your link to the Waikiki game is for October 17th.

  13. Lanny says:

    It would be great if he was throwing no hitters but you realize that the Fall league is there to work on things and work on dif pitches and try things out. They don’t want him going there and dominating with whats worked before. It is a place to develop your new pitches and work on things.

    Results are worthless here.

  14. Thomas says:

    Eddie Kunz seems like he will fit in perfectly with the Mets’ bullpen.

    • Lanny says:

      They have to throw $ at K-Rod. It makes too much sense for them. The choice between Fuentes and K-Rod should be no choice at all. if its just money the Mets should realize they are moving into a new ballpark and will have much revenue to play with.

      • Mike A. says:

        I’d rather have Fuentes than K-Rod. He’ll cost about a third less, allows fewer baserunners, has a better strikeout rate, and he’s a safer bet to stay healthy over a 4 yr deal.

        • Lanny says:

          K-Rod has also done it on the big stage in a major market. Fuentes if you remember lost his job last year during a playoff race.

          The Mets cant be worried about money. And its not like Fuentes is a bargain at 13+ per. Remember this about free agency. Whatever we think a guys price will be add 10 mil to it. There are no bargains when it comes to free agents and Fuentes will have plenty of teams in on him.

          • Mike A. says:

            Fuentes didn’t lose his job in a playoff race. He went on the DL with a rib injury in May, Corpas was awesome as his fill in, and just never gave it back. Fuentes also reclaimed the job this year.

            • Thomas says:

              The problem with Fuentes often seems to be he play very well except for like 1 week of the season where he blows like 3 save and gives up 10 runs in 2 innnings. But I’d still take him over paying K-Rod twice as much.

  15. Biship says:

    I hope the mets through a lot of money at K-Rod. His arm is gonna fall off soon

  16. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    Luis Polonia is hitting .310 in the Dominican League. At 45, he could be a solid role player. haha

  17. mustang says:

    “For Hughes, this effort was another in a recent spate of sub-par efforts. In the long run, AFL stats don’t account for anything”

    It’s funny when he is doing well in AAA all we hear is how great he is going to be and when he sucks in the AFL it doesn’t account for anything.
    Thus are the tones of the “Apologists”.

    • mustang says:

      I wonder how much this statement would change if he was blowing out the AFL.

      • Steve H says:

        For people who don’t overreact at-bat by at-bat, the statement probably wouldn’t change.

        • mustang says:

          Then you haven’t been paying attention on how Mr. Hughes is perceived here at RAB.

          • Steve H says:

            Like I said, for people who don’t overreact at-bat by at-bat. There are people on both sides who do that, pro-Hughes and anti-Hughes. Call anyone apologists, I’ll call them realists. He’s 22, he could still go either way, good or bad, but for anyone to determine that he’s a bust, or he’s going to have a bust in Cooperstown is crazy. Halladay sucked at 23, and if Hughes sucks at 23, it still won’t mean he’s a bust. Hughes was a better MLB pitcher at 21 than Garza was at 22, and look at Garza now. No one knows for sure what Hughes will become, some are optimistic, some are pessimistic.

            • mustang says:

              I agree with you, but the apologists (realists as you call them) excuses range far pass the normal development of a young pitcher.
              I just hope this winter the Yankees take a more balance approach towards the 2009 team.

              • Steve H says:

                Couldn’t agree more regarding the 2009 team. I just hope they truly weren’t expecting to win the WS in 2008 with 2 rookies in the rotation. Last offseason there wasn’t someone like CC out there available (for only $$$), they need to do all they can to get him, and let the pieces fall into place behind him.

                • mustang says:

                  ” I just hope they truly weren’t expecting to win the WS in 2008 with 2 rookies in the rotation.”

                  Exactly that’s why it should have been addressed instead of having this ok if we don’t make the playoff attitude. In 1981 I had that attitude after winning championships in 1977 and 1978 only to wait 14 years before seeing the playoffs again.
                  Never leave things on the table you never know when you’re going to get them back.

            • mustang says:

              “if Hughes sucks at 23, it still won’t mean he’s a bust. ”

              Your right, but that would also mean 3 years of not having one of the best pitchers in MLB.

  18. Mike W. says:

    I would really like to see Phil Hughes pitch on a full sample size before being annoyed with him, but I have to say, I just don’t see what many of you guys love about him. I just don’t see the #1 “stuff” with him. When I watch Joba, I can see that his fastball is electric and that his slider is absolutely filthy. When I watch Hughes, I think, he has some good stuff, will probably fill in as a number 3.

    I could be wrong, and if the Yankees end up keeping him this offseason, I really hope that I am, but I just don’t see what people get so hyped up about him for…

    • Steve H says:

      You mean like the “stuff” Farnsworth has? Stuff does not make a pitcher.

      • Mike W. says:

        What makes a #1 pitcher? Grit?

        • Steve H says:

          Explain Greg Maddux to me then. How’s his “stuff”? It’s not grit. Remember, it’s call “pitching”, not “throwing”.

          • Mike W. says:

            Greg Maddux’ stuff still doesn’t wow me and it never did. He was a great pitcher. A hall of famer. Let’s see if Phil Hughes can win 10 games in a year before we proclaim him a hall of famer. I hope Hughes does become a great pitcher. My question, if you read above, was what people see in him that they get all worked up about?

          • brockdc says:

            Nobody should ever be compared to Maddux. He’s an anomaly with freakish control of all his pitches. Hughes will not become the next Greg Maddux next year, five years from now, or ever.

            I think the main issue here were the stratospheric expectations placed on Hughes. A few major sportswriters, continually looking for the next big thing, latched onto some very favorable scouting reports that had Hughes throwing three “plus” pitches while “sitting” at 94-95. And, let’s not forget, we’re living in a different era now, where every single pitch of ever minor league start for premier prospects is scrutinized and then almost instantly disseminated throughout the blogosphere for the fan base to consume.

            This current scrutiny given to major prospects is so far beyond what guys like Halladay and Pettite had to endure when they were clawing their way to the show. It’s almost unfair, in a way.

            With all of that said, I say give Phil time to get his act together, whether it’s in AAA or as a #5 in the Bronx. Have him work on that cutter and the location of his two-seamer. And see if he can perhaps learn yet another pitch – perhaps a change (so many scouting reports said he had one, but I have yet to see him throw it). Currently, as a two-pitch pitcher, ML hitters are sitting on his fastball, which appears very hittable. And, before you all get out the “He only throws teh 91!1!!” pitchforks, 91 isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it sure does give a pitcher less room for error, hence the need for Hughes. to develop a full pallet of pitches.

            Put him back in the oven. He’s not ready yet.

    • Old Ranger says:

      They see a great curve and the make-up of a #1-2 pitcher in the making. He has a killer curve, a good fast ball (moves) and gave up on the change, replacing it with the cutter. The slowest thing to come around for a pitcher is his command/control, the last is…learning how to pitch. All the pitchers we have can throw, that puts them on a A roster, those that learn to pitch move up from there.
      Phil is trying to work on his three pitches, meaning his command/control of them. 27/09.

  19. pat says:

    Ugh this is so ridiculous. The kids only 22 years old he could bounce between here and scranton for the next 2 years and still be on the same career path as most major league pitchers. To have a kid come up and have sustained success at 21 or 22 is so incredibly rare and most people take it for granted. The jobas and lincecums are the exception to a rule not the norm. Maybe he doesnt sit in thr 94-95 range that doesnt mean hes not gonna be a successful pitcher. Hundreds of guys have had success in the 90-92 range. Yall haters need to cool your jets and let the development take its natural course.

  20. [...] If he can’t command his heat, then he won’t pitch well. That’s how he is and, as Ben points out, that was the case in the Rising Stars game. Basically, Hughes needs to command the fastball and [...]

  21. Manimal says:

    It looks, to me, that either Bleich will either A. Have a significant injury and miss most of the year or B. Be a solid september call up. I hope its B.

    • 27 this year says:

      i really don’t think they are planning on calling him up for at least till 2010. Do you really want to use a 40 man spot for someone that they could keep off of it?

    • Old Ranger says:

      Agree with 27 in that, like most other pitchers it takes time to learn how to pitch…not just throw the ball. As I posted earlier, most of our pitchers can throw the damn ball past A, AA and most AAA hitters, but the show…that’s another world. Give the kid some time to work on the things that will make him be the best that he can be. 2010-2011 looks good to me, unless he turns into another Herb Score of the 50s. 27/09.

  22. Old Ranger says:

    Ok, so I’m always late with my posts…fishing comes first! 27/09.

  23. Miles Roche says:

    When writing that Bleich needs elbow surgery, you were being sarcastic, right?

  24. Travis G. says:

    Kunz is ready for the Mets!

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