In George We Trust
A(nother) blog about the most storied franchise in sports
Friday, May 05, 2006
Trenton debut for Mr. Hughes
After weeks of rumors that Phil Hughes was being called up to Trenton, it was made official as possible last night when he took the mound for the Thunder. Hughes easily had his worst start of the year (by his standards), going 6 innings and giving up 7 H (2 XBH) and 4 R (all earned), while only striking out 3 against 2 walks (matching his season total). Again, it was Hughes' worst start of the year, but he did pitch well enough to get the win.

I didn't see the game obviously, but box scores tell you a whole lot. Hughes control is what sets him apart from other 19 year olds, and from the looks of it he just didn't have it. Not only did he issue 2 free passes, but he also uncorked a wild pitch, something he hadn't done since his Low-A Charleston days in the first half of 2005. Maybe it was just one of those days, maybe he had a hard time with the more advanced hitters (I doubt it, Reading's aggregate line is .229-.294-.311-.604), or maybe he was just nervous, and who would blame him? He's a 19 year old kid playing in a league with an average age around 22.

On the bright side, Hughes still hasn't given up a long ball - he's given up only 1 HR in his 127.1 career IP - and managed to keep the ball on the ground, posting a 9-4 GB/FB ratio, which is exemplary for a power pitcher. Surprisingly, attendance was down for Hughes' debut - just over 4,700 fans showed up, about 300 fans less than average.

Overall, I'm not worried about the performance, it was his first start at the level and it was just one start - he's allowed to have a "bad" game now and then. Even if his next 2 starts resembled this one, I still wouldn't be too worried. If his control comes back for his next start against Portland, I wouldn't be surprised one bit if he was back to his 7 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 8 K dominating self. Either way Phil, ignore the media nazis and know there's a whole lot of us backing you, win or lose.

FYI: I'm not going to bother separating Hughes' Tampa and Trenton stats in the Phil Hughes Watch, so those numbers you see are his combined season totals. Unless there's a massive public outcry, it'll stay like this for the rest of the season.

Down on the Farm:

Triple-A Columbus (5-1 loss to Norfolk)
Melky Cabrera: 0 for 3, 1 BB
Carlos Pena: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K
Eric Duncan: 0 for 2, 1 BB, 1 K
Danny Garcia: 0 for 3, 3 K, 1 E (throwing)
Jeff Karstens: 5 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K - 3-8 GB/FB ratio
Ramiro Mendoza: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K - 4-0 GB/FB ratio, stranded both inherited runners

Double-A Trenton (5-3 loss to Reading)
Justin Christian: 1 for 4, 1 R - threw a runner out at second
Bronson Sardinha: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 K, 1 E (throwing)
Shelley Duncan: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K, 1 CS
Phil Hughes: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 WP
TJ Beam: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K

High-A Tampa (8-2 loss to Clearwater)
Brett Gardner: 2 for 4, 1 SB
Cody Elhers: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B
Matt Carson: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Marcos Vechionacci: 2 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 SB - after 0 for 44 slump, he's now 4 for his last 8
Tim Battle: 0 for 3, 1 K
Jeff Marquez: 5 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 3 K - 3-9 GB/FB ratio, and he's a sinkerballer
Mike Martinez: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

Low-A Charleston (4-2 win over Greenville)
Austin Jackson: 1 for 4, 1 BB, 1 CS
Reegie Corona: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 K, 1 SB
Jose Tabata: 3 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 CS, 1 HBP
Joseph Muich: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B
Zack Kroenke: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
Wilkins Arias: 4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
Anonymous RichYF said...

Anonymous baileywalk said...
He was better than his numbers show. He wasn't great, and he said nerves got to him a little, but I was stunned how poor the defense behind him was. For some reason -- even though Hughes was making his AA debut -- they started Stotts over Pena at shortstop and Stotts was a disaster. He let two groundballs go by him, booted a double play ball, and almost threw the ball away twice to first. He was flat-out awful. Also, one of the flyballs to right should have been caught. The rightfielder, Sardinha, totally misplayed it and had to dive for it. If you take out the errors -- both the ones marked as such and the ones that weren't (like the play in the outfield) -- Hughes' line would have been much better.

The ump also really squeezed the pitchers. He wouldn't call anything at the knees strikes and Hughes got screwed on a number of pitches. I didn't see any gun readings, but his fastball looked pretty good and he got the curve over, but the slider was missing.

Anyway, while I wanted him to dominate, he did threw hard, work quick, and never flustered because of the bad defense. He has incredible poise for someone so young.

I think the ump's strikezone and working with a new catcher might have screwed with Hughes' pitch selection. But still, I was impressed with what I saw.

And T.J. Beam was an absolute beast. He completely overpowered the hitters he faced with an explosive fastball. He pitched three perfect innings (one run scored on a throwing error) and lowered his ERA to 0.43.

Blogger Mike A said...
That what I figured with Hughes, he was getting squeezed a bit and the defense wasn't great. The article had some interesting stats:

- the 4 ER was the most Hughes has given up in a start as a pro

- it was only the 5th time in his career (first in over a year) that he walked more than 1 batter

- it was only the 2nd time in his career his given up 7 H or more

As far as Beam, the box score and game log says he gave up 3 H and 1 BB in his 3 innings.

Anonymous baileywalk said...
My bad. Replace "perfect" with "scoreless." Guess I was too excited for my own good. It's funny -- I was at the game, remember the walk, but only remember him giving up one hit. Odd how you forget things so quick.

Anyway, he still looked good.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hughes picked up the loss. But, nonetheless, I was listening to the radio feed and the SS really struggled big time like others have already mentioned. And, the broadcaster kept saying "at the knees for a ball", so I'm assuming Hughes was squeezed a little bit but that happens. It might not have been a good start, but being 19 making his AA debut, it could have been a lot worse. I expect him to really improve as the year moves along. Only thing stopping Phil at this point is injuries and so far so good. ::Knocks on wood::

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