Multiple New York media outlets are reporting that former Trenton Thunder star and current New York Yankees All-Star starting pitcher Phil Hughes will be returning to the Thunder for a rehab start Friday in New Britain, CT.
Hughes, who will coincidentally celebrate his 25th birthday on Friday as well, has been sidelined since Mid-April due to a dead arm. This rehab start against the Rock Cats will be his second in what is expected to be a series of as many as four outings before he returns to the big leagues, as he successfully toed the rubber in Brooklyn for Staten Island on Sunday afternoon.
Hughes’ velocity, which had dipped into the mid-80’s earlier this year with New York, was topping out at 95 MPH with Staten Island, and threw 61 pitches; including 41 for strikes. While it’s uncertain what his rehab plan is, Hughes would be on pace for a start at Waterfront Park on Wednesday afternoon against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats if he remains with the Thunder.
It was Hughes 2006 season with Trenton that established him as one of the best prospects in all of baseball. Just 19 years old at the time he initially joined the Thunder, Hughes was flat-out dominant in Double-A, posting a 10-3 record with an ERA — as anyone worth talking to will instantly remember — coming in at a sporty 2.25 in 21 starts. He struck out 138 and walked just 32 in 116 Eastern League innings, and posted an impressive 0.91 WHIP in the process. But his most memorable Thunder moment came in a playoff start against Portland, in which he struck out 13 Portland Sea Dogs in six innings of work.
This will also not be Hughes first rehab stint with Trenton. In 2007, after injuring himself during a brilliant start in Texas, Hughes returned to Waterfront Park to make two starts before ultimately returning to the big leagues, where he would go on to win a World Series with the Yankees in 2009 and appear in the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com