Results tagged ‘ Luke Hughes ’

Day 4: Bradenton

I’m in Pirate City folks. And yet, the guy I’m going to focus on in a bit is a Twin. Go figure.

First, a couple of tidbits, one on-the-field related and one an off-the-field bizarre small world story I meant to share with you yesterday.

I’m beginning to fear that prospects — especially in the Pirates organization — are going to start avoiding me. I saw — and wrote about — Jose Tabata here yesterday. Then I find out when I arrive in Bradenton that Tabata, along with Tom Gorzelanny, had been sent to the Minor League side. Gorzo will be in the Indianapolis rotation and it’s looking like Tabata will start with Double-A Altoona.

Then, to add to it, I see the Pirates again today. Neil Walker makes a few nice plays at third, walks and scores a run. Then, after the game, he’s optioned to Triple-A as well. To be fair, both were eventually going to be sent down. Turns out that Walker’s was more a procedural move than anything else. If a player is on the 40-man roster and is still in big-league camp after March 20, if he gets hurt, he has to be put on the big-league disabled list. That might not sound like much, but that counts against his service time clock and he’d get a Major League salary. Since Walker was not going to make the club anyway, it’s not that big of a deal. Walker, as always, handled it with grace and said he understood the situation. Sounds like it was well communicated to him and the Pirates, for their part, would’ve loved to keep him around to let him learn in this atmosphere for a while longer. But rules are rules.

OK, on to our Prospect Impression:

luke_hughes.JPGI first met Twins prospect Luke Hughes at the 2008 Futures Game. The Aussie was on the World Team and we took him and New Zealander (Kiwi) Scott Campbell of the Blue Jays on a double-decker bus tour of New York City. A good time was had by all. You can watch the video feature we did by going here. The link is on the bottom right, where it says “Hughes, Campbell tour NYC.”

Now, Hughes isn’t just a good personality. He split the year between Double- and Triple-A in 2008, finishing with a .309 average and .524 slugging percentage. The 24-year-old then went to Venezuela and handled himself well, hitting .298 in 32 games. He’s on the 40-man roster and participated in the World Baseball Classic, where he went 3-for-12 with a homer and three RBIs in Australia’s three games.

He’s still in big-league camp and really opening some more eyes. He had two more hits today against hte Pirates to raise his average to .429 (6-for-14). He’s played second, third and the outfield over the past year. He’ll either settle into one position (an offensive-minded 2B perhaps?) or he can be a superutility guy who can really rake. Whatever the case, he’s bound for Triple-A eventually. He told me he was hoping he could stick around in big-league camp for another week, at least, maybe show more people what he can do. The bigger impression you can make up here, after all, the more likely the whole “phone call away” thing comes true.

I’ve got an “off day” tomorrow, but I’ll try to do a draft update of some sort just to mix it up.

Futures Game, New York style

It’s taken me a little longer than I anticipated, but I wanted to share some thoughts about my time in New York covering the 10th Futures Game. Joe Cronin’s already written about it on his blog and I’m sure Lisa Winston will describe here experience in detail over on got milb.

It all started on Friday for us. For the past couple of years, we’ve brought in a prospect — usually one from the area — for a whirlwind tour of the city. In 2006, Neil Walker was the perfect subject, a Pittsburgh kid coming home for the Futures Game at PNC Park while a member of the Pirates organization. Last year, Indians prospect Chuck Lofgren came home to the Bay Area for the game. But this year, there was no New Yorker on the roster, so we had to think a little outside the box. Scott Campbell and Luke Hughes, hailing from New Zealand and Australia, made for the perfect candidates, and not just because they’re 1-2 in the Eastern League in hitting.

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Having never been to New York before, we decided to take them on a tour of the city via double-decker bus. I grew up in Northern New Jersey and then lived in New York for eight years and had never done this — I think it’s the kind of thing that residents of a city rarely do, but it was a perfect day and we had a great time seeing the sights.  It’s basically a quick sweep of stuff, but the Empire State Building, Macy’s, Ground Zero, plus driving through many of the city’s neighborhoods was all interesting and Hughes and Campbell had a great time doing it.

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See, that’s them having a great time…a picture is really worth 1,000 words. At any rate, we got off the bus in Battery Park and decided, why not, let’s hop on the Staten Island Ferry in a Futures Game version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

The big highlight of that, of course, was floating by the Statue of Liberty, but we also got to see the Staten Island Yankees’ ballpark, which I’ve never been to. Campbell played in the New York-Penn League, but never got the chance to play there, or in Brooklyn, for that matter. We also saw some of the Eliasson New York City Waterfalls. Got to be honest there, I didn’t really appreciate them. Maybe going to see all of them, and getting a closer look, would make me  enjoy them more, but they didn’t do it for me from our vantage point. Here’s hoping, though, that it brings people to NY to see ‘em.
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After our afternoon of touring, we had dinner at Sparks Steakhouse, a veritable New York landmark in its own right. Those of you mafia buffs might recall Sparks as the setting for the deaths of Paul Castellano and Thomas Bilotti, courtesy of John Gotti. But I digress. A good time was had by all and it got everyone that much more excited for the game on Sunday. If you want to check out the video feature and photo gallery, go to the MiLB.com Futures Game page and scroll the bottom. It’s in that box on the bottom right.

Just so you don’t think it was all fun and games, we had plenty of work to do. Lisa and I did a pair of shows from FanFest. Futures Gamer Kevin Pucetas joined us on Saturday and I’m pretty sure he’d make my MiLB All-Interview team (look for a something on that at the end of the year).  And there were some injuries along the way. Lisa battled through some blisters the entire weekend without complaining (well, not complaining much). I think Kerry Wood could learn something from her example. As for me, any time I try to keep the ol’ noggin clean-shaven every day, there’s a risk. And wouldn’t you just know…

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Thank goodness Batman was there to rescue me. That’s right, it’s a Batman band-aid, which I’m sure is going to become a hot trend among those who shave their heads, especially with The Dark Knight coming out shortly.

Anyway, then came the game on Sunday. The live pre-game show went off without a hitch, I thought, and much kudos needs to be given to our incredibly hard-working multimedia staff. In my mind, it was the best live broadcast, in terms of how smoothly it went, that I’ve been involved with. During the game, Vinny Micucci and I did analysis in the booth between some innings, while Lisa did a terrific job with interviews from the U.S. and World dugouts.

The game itself was a little, well, less than thrilling, though it was still fun to see some of these players in person for the first time, especially on a stage like that. And Che Hsuan Lin put himself on the map with that tater, while Henry Rodriguez created quite a buzz by hitting triple-digits on the radar gun. Hard to believe it was my ninth Futures Game (I missed the game in Houston in 2004 because of the birth of my daughter), but I’m already looking forward to St. Louis in 2009.

From there it was on to Louisville (where I am right now) for the Triple-A All-Star Game. I’ll have more from here in the next day or so, but be sure to tune into the game on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET. Yours truly will be handling the sideline reporting duties…

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