Hughes Learning to Pitch Inside More Efficiently

Hughes, 26, is battling for a spot in the pirates bullpen this spring.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Jared Hughes took a huge step forward during the 2011 season after he changed his arm slot to a three-quarters release, and was moved into the bullpen. The hard throwing 6′ 7″ right-hander believed throwing over the top would be more deceiving for hitters, trying to use his height to get hitters out. But once Hughes moved his arm slot, he saw himself throwing more strikes. He also saw himself move quickly through the Pirates system.

“That was big,” Hughes said on his arm slot change. “That, and going into the bullpen and being a little bit more aggressive. The three-quarter arm slot was huge. It really helped me throw more strikes. I got a little bit better movement on the ball, threw better strikes. And that’s the key. If you can get ahead in the count, you’re going to be a more successful pitcher.”

After starting the 2011 season in Double-A Altoona, where he made 11 starts and appeared in two games in relief, Hughes was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis in June where he was used exclusively in the bullpen. Hughes posted a 2.11 ERA over 42.2 innings with 45 strikeouts before getting a call to the big leagues on September 6.

Hughes tossed 1.1 scoreless innings in his Major League debut the next day against the Houston Astros. He went on to toss eight scoreless frames before giving up his first big league run. Overall, Hughes appeared in 12 games with the Pirates where he allowed five runs on nine hits over 11.0 innings. He walked four and struck out 10.

“To improve [getting] left-handed hitters [out] is huge, being able to get inside on them,” Hughes said of what he gained from his experience last season. “I can also take last year and take it as a confidence booster and say, ‘Hey, I can hang. I can go up there. I can throw my sinker and hang in the big leagues, have success, and help this team win.’ That’s how I can take last year to improve this year.”

Over the offseason, Hughes was focused on being able to pitch to left-handers more efficiently. Against lefties in the Majors, Hughes allowed three runs on three hits over 4.0 innings, which included a home run and three walks.

“Last year I did well at times, but I also realized I needed to be able to pitch left-handers more efficiently,” Hughes said. “Getting inside on them, so I can open up the outside of the plate to my sinker. Also to be able to throw a change-up low in the zone to throw off their timing.”

Hughes said so far this spring it’s working well, and he continues to work on it during Grapefruit League game action. Over eight appearances, Hughes has allowed four runs on 12 hits over 9.0 innings. He’s walked two while punching out 10.

“I’m still working on it this spring,” Hughes said. “Just trying to bring it into games. That was the big plan this offseason in terms of my pitching. I’m trying to get it going during games now.”

With just a week left until Opening Day, Hughes still remains in big league camp, looking to head north with the club to Pittsburgh. The 26-year-old is battling for a spot in the Pirates ‘pen, which has some stiff competition this spring.

“It’s going to be a good ‘pen,” Hughes said. “We’ve got a lot of talented guys. All each one of can do is focus on ourselves, focus on our team, and go out there and try to win games.”

As far as goals he’s set for himself this spring, Hughes has short-term ones, just as every player does. But the righty envisions one that many fans are holding on to hope for one day: A World Series Championship.

“I have short-term goals in terms of working hard and learning how to pitch always,” Hughes said. “In terms of long-term goals, winning a championship in Pittsburgh.”

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Pirates Reassign Evans, Fox, Fryer, Igarashi to Minor League Camp

Next Story »

Morton to Start the Season on the DL

Latest Analysis

  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    23 hours ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    2 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    3 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    4 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    6 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    1 week ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    1 week ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    2 weeks ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles

    More