- Full name Travis Wade Hughes
- Born 05/25/1978 in Newton, KS
- Profile Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 235 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Cowley CC
- Debut 09/26/2004
- Drafted in the 19th round (587th overall) by the Texas Rangers in 1997.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Based on the recommendation of director of major league administration Lee MacPhail, the Nationals claimed Hughes off waivers from the Rangers following the 2004 season. Hughes was a starter in the Texas system until moving to the bullpen in mid-2003, and the Nationals view him as a power reliever. Out of the pen, Hughes is a max-effort pitcher with the strongest arm in the system. He has mostly stopped throwing his changeup since shifting to relief, relying solely on a 94-96 mph fastball that tops out at 98 and a plus high-80s slider. He displays only a limited feel for commanding either pitch, however. A high-energy player with a great clubhouse presence, he sometimes gets too amped up and loses his composure and command. New Orleans pitching coach Charlie Corbell did a nice job getting Hughes to stay within himself. He'll need to learn to harness his power arsenal before he's ready for a full-time middle-relief role in the majors. If everything clicks, he has the stuff to be a set-up man or closer in another year.
Hughes signed as a draft-and-follow out of junior-college power Cowley County (Kan.), which also produced Diamondbacks infielder Junior Spivey and former Rangers farmhand Travis Hafner. He overcame offseason knee problems and a midsummer slump to emerge from the Rangers' pack of Double-A righthanders. Hughes has a big body and uses it to throw one of the organization's best fastballs, a mid-90s sinker. He has started commanding it better and added bite to his slider. When he stays on top of it, it's the best slider in the organization. Three starts in the Texas League playoffs helped Hughes gain much-needed feel for his changeup, which was a plus pitch in the postseason. The organization leader in walks in 2002, Hughes still has major command issues. His mechanics can go awry and he's not a tremendous athlete, so he has trouble repeating his delivery. Hughes' experience as a starter helped him develop his raw power arm. He figures to stay in that role until the big league team needs him in the bullpen, where he still profiles best. He'll get a look in spring training but figures to open 2003 in the Triple-A rotation.
One of the biggest challenges to the Texas player-development staff, Hughes signed as a draft-and-follow in 1998 after leading Cowley County (Kan.) CC to the Junior College World Series title. He has a legitimate mid-90s sinker but lacks consistency with it. The problems start with Hughes' lack of coordination. He can be ungainly on the mound, and that causes his delivery to often go haywire--which leads to control difficulties. He also throws a slider and a changeup, but both pitches need more refinement. Hughes made five starts last year to amass innings, but his future is in the bullpen. His quirk in that role, according to scouts, is a tendency to pitch better after inheriting runners than with the bases empty. Hughes lacks a deep pitching background because his high school didn't field a baseball team. The Rangers saw enough hopeful signs from him last season in Double-A to place him in the Arizona Fall League and on their 40-man roster. He won't be ready for spring training because of an offseason knee injury.
Minor League Top Prospects
The Rangers' patience with Hughes is starting to pay off. Signed as a draft-and-follow out of the 1997 draft, he's a project who didn't play in high school because his school didn't have a team. Before the season Hughes was viewed as a reliever, but he held his own in the Tulsa rotation and piled up a career high in innings, including the postseason. While he seemed to tire down the stretch, he bounced back with two strong starts in the playoffs, including a 10-strikeout, no-walk outing against San Antonio in the finals. Hughes throws 91-94 mph with easy effort, and he shows a plus-plus slider at times and a potentially above-average changeup. His complementary pitches need work, though, and he does not use them enough. His command improved significantly this year, but it's still inconsistent: His great outing against San Antonio came after a four-strikeout, four-walk start. Even in that game, though, he gave up just one run in eight innings.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Slider in the Texas Rangers in 2005