Posted on: April 13, 2009 1:04 pm

Hughes and Kennedy

Nice write up in today's BA after their first starts:


The phone call reached the visiting clubhouse at Triple-A Buffalo on Monday morning, and the voice on the other end of the line sounded haggard and tired and soldiering through the day.

Which was to be expected following a trip from Allentown, Pa., coupled with an early rise and quick turnaround in a new locale for a 1 o’clock matinee.

But for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre pitching coach Scott Aldred, that was OK, considering the Yankees’ Triple-A pitching train smoked through Lehigh Valley (Phillies) over the weekend and sounded an unmistakable opening salvo to the 2009 season.

Remember Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes?

With all eyes on the David Price-Matt Wieters battle in Triple-A Durham, the two Yankees pitchers made quite the racket themselves in serving notice that the disappointments of last season will not carry over into a new one.

Matched opposite Lehigh Valley’s Carlos Carrasco, who was pretty good himself, Kennedy punched out 11 in six innings on Friday night. Hughes took the hill on Sunday and, though his stuff didn’t completely wipe out the Lehigh Valley lineup, it was still good enough for six innings and a victory that completed a four-game sweep.

"They both threw pretty well, and pounded the zone," Aldred said. "Ian was very good. He was ahead of every hitter and threw quality strikes."

And Hughes?

"Phil had a fastball yesterday and mixed in a few breaking balls," Aldred said. "He’s a typical slow starter in April, but he pitched OK yesterday."

It may have been only the season debuts for both, but Kennedy’s and Hughes’ success cannot be underscored enough in light of their struggles last year under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium.

The pair opened 2008 in the Yankees rotation, but fell out of favor by the end of April. Kennedy was 0-4, 8.17 overall and eventually hit the disabled list because of a strained lat muscle in May. A cameo appearance in August bombed as well. Hughes went 0-4, 9.00 in six April starts, but turned it around in Scranton in the second half and struck out 10 in 12 innings in two September starts for the big league club.

Now here they are on the same staff again, in April, only in Scranton.

Kennedy, who outdueled Carrasco on a night the Phillies righthander struck out four over six scoreless innings, is coming off a nice showing this winter in the Puerto Rican League, where he worked on throwing his curve for strikes.

Asked if he demonstrated that ability on Friday, when Kennedy showed pinpoint control in not allowing a walk and yielding just a run on four hits, Aldred said, "Not yet. Some of them did."

But there’s a reason.

The Yankees late in spring training tweaked the shape to Kennedy’s curveball. While his fastball sat 90-92 mph on Friday, the curve showed nice signs—it’s shorter with a smaller break.

"All of his misses are in one spot right now, which is good," Aldred said. "It’s easily correctable."

Meanwhile, Hughes overcame early struggles—his first 22 pitches weren’t good enough to get outs—before he turned to his curveball.

But five pitches stood out to Aldred—Hughes’ changeup.

"He was a little inconsistent with his breaking pitches. His fastball had life. It plays out harder than it shows on the gun. It’s got a pretty good backstroke and jumps on hitters," Aldred said. "Our focus is to make sure he develops his changeup so when he gets back to New York he has another weapon, especially against lefthanded batters."

Aldred called Hughes’ changeup "all good ones," thanks to the righthander maintaining the same arm speed as he does on throwing the fastball.

"It’s very good," Aldred said. "It’s creating trust with it, and when that comes on, it will snowball over time. That’s what I hope happens."



Category: MLB
Tags: Hughes, Kennedy
Posted on: February 16, 2009 5:00 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2009 7:33 pm

Kennedy and Hughes-A year later

Last year at this time, it was a different feel in Yankeeland during Spring Training. After wrestling most of the winter with the decision, the Yankee braintrust decided not to ship any of their promising young arms out for Johan Santana, and instead elected to give 2 of them a spot in the rotation to begin the season. As we know now, that experiment failed miserably. Hughes went 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA in 6 April starts before being diagnosed with a cracked rib. His colleague was, if it could be believed, even worse. Kennedy finished 8 starts in April and May with an 0-3 record and a 7.41 ERA before he was replaced in the rotation. Unlike Hughes, Kennedy didn't have an injury to blame-and in fact angered many in both the organization and the fanbase when he publicly stated that he preferred pitching in AAA (where he curiously continued to dominate) because there was less pressure.

Now, a year later, both pitchers have had to mature quite a bit in and out of the NY fishbowl, and both have recent success on which to draw confidence. Hughes came back to pitch adequately in his last 2 big league starts in September, then proceeded to dominate the AAA playoffs as the Scranton Yankees took the International league Championship. He followed that with a strong showing in Arizona.

Kennedy also had a nice year in AAA (2.35 ERA), and pitched well for the AAA Yankees in the playoffs. He spun a 1.56 ERA over 35 innings in the Puerto Rican winter league.

The biggest difference for both of them undoubtedly will be what their surroundings look like in April. Neither is expected to make the team out of Spring Training. Hughes will be the first call to the rotation, and Kennedy won't be far behind.

What each hope is that 2009 is a far, far better year than 2008.


Category: MLB
Tags: Hughes, Kennedy
Posted on: November 20, 2008 10:35 am

Hughes finishes strong

In his last start for the Peoria Javelinas of the Arizona fall league, Phil Hughes was, in a word, dominating.

5 IP 2H 0BB 0ER 10K.  53 of his 76 pitches were strikes, and he was again hitting the mid 90's with his fastball.

Overall, Hughes threw 30 total innings in Arizona, allowing 21 hits, 13 BB, 38K while pitching to a an even 3.00 ERA and a .198 BAA.

Considering he allowed 7 ER in 2 2/3 innings in one of his starts, he was really quite good overall.

Hughes finishes his disappointing 2008 season with a total of 112 innings pitched, meaning provided he stays healthy he'll be allowed to go to the 150 inning plateau next season.

A very positive end to a less than positive season.

Category: MLB
Tags: Hughes
Posted on: November 4, 2008 5:01 pm

The maddingly inconsistent Phil Hughes

At it again last night in the AFL

5 IP 1H 0ER 0BB 8K

A nice, efficient outing-bordering on dominating. So why does it seem like every start it's Jekyll and Hyde with this guy?

To wit: in the Rising Stars showcase he was given the honor of the start, but pitched like crap, was all over the place, and was fortunate to give up only 1 earned run.

The start prior to that he was shelled-to the tune of 7 ER in only 2 1/3 IP.

The two starts before that? A combined 10 innings, with 10K, only 5 hits allowed to go with 1 ER.

And he was last seen before that dominating the Pawtucket Red Sox and Durham Bulls on the way to the International League Championship.

At this point, I think it's pretty clear that he has the stuff to be a top of the rotation starter in the bigs. The real question-and it's a tough question when you're 22 years old-does he have the focus and determination?

Time will tell.


Category: MLB
Tags: Hughes
Posted on: October 14, 2008 9:02 am

Hughes named AFL pitcher of the week



And followed it up with another solid start-this time against the D-Back's Max Scherzer.

5IP 4H 1ER 1BB 3K. Only threw 79 pitches, but with a 10/2 GB to FB ratio. When he's on, that's his game.

Category: MLB
Tags: Hughes
Posted on: September 13, 2008 8:38 am
Edited on: September 13, 2008 9:04 am


The Scranton Yankees claimed the International League championship last night with a 20-2 bludgeoning of the Durham Bulls. The Yanks crush Wade Davis, potentially the top RH pitching prospect in the game, but the story again was Phil Hughes.

5IP 4H 4BB 1ER 12K

Hughes struck out at least 2 batters in every inning, as well as the side in the 3rd and 4th innings. He struck out 23 in his 2 post-season starts, setting a Scranton franchise record.

His career post-season numbers: 24IP 16H 1ER 5BB 42K

Hughes was called up to NY following his start. The remainder of the Scranton team await their opponent from the PCL for the one game Brickyard Showdown. Victor Zambrano is slated to start, but I hope the Yankees skip him for Ian Kennedy-who has already requested the honor apparently.


Category: MLB
Tags: Hughes
Posted on: August 3, 2008 9:03 am

Hughes ahead of schedule

Making his second re-hab appearance for class A Charleston, Phil Hughes was terrific.  3 2/3 innings, 1 hit, 1 BB, and 5 K's. More encouraging are the reports that he was dialing it up to 95-something we weren't seeing in the Bronx earlier in the season. His class A totals to this point, 6 2/3 IP, 3H, 2BB 6K. He has not allowed a run. Next stop, Trenton, I assume, then perhaps a couple more weeks until he's back in the Bronx. The fact that he's dialing it up to 95 when he was 90-91 earlier in the season suggests that the cracked rib really was hindering his delivery.


Category: MLB
Tags: Hughes
Posted on: June 11, 2008 9:06 am

Hughes now "pain-free"

Direct from the horses' mouth:

"On another note, I have been pain free for about a week and hope to be throwing again soon. I also received my new Oakley prescription glasses for when I’m back on the mound. Should be pretty intimidating. haha. "


Great news on Phil. If he can start throwing now, and get in some rehab games by the end of the month-He should be on track for rejoining the rotation after the all-star break. He should be a nice boost to the rotation, and it will be interesting to see his new "Wild Thing" look. If nothing else, the kid needs to get some innings!

Category: MLB
Tags: Hughes
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