McHugh Taking Simple Steps

BINGHAMTON, NY - Collin McHugh knows all about the travails of being a minor league pitcher. The right-hander has pitched at three levels in the past season and a half, all the while taking the necessary steps to develop and deepen his game. Now in the B-Mets rotation, McHugh is working on a new pitch and his approach that he believes will lead to greater success.

Right-hander Collin McHugh is working his way through the New York Mets farm system, and he's making pretty much every stop along the way.

In the last year and a half alone, McHugh has donned the jerseys of both Class-A Savannah and High-A St. Lucie, and now, after a midseason promotion, Double-A Binghamton.

McHugh, who was selected by the Mets in the 18th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of Berry College, began the 2011 campaign with St. Lucie, and in nine appearances with the club (six starts), he posted a 1-2 record and 6.31 ERA. In 35.2 innings, he surrendered 47 hits and 25 earned runs.

For McHugh, moving up to Binghamton was a chance to put his High-A struggles behind him, but also an opportunity to build on his successes. In the same 35.2 innings, McHugh struck out 39 batters.

"I think it's been good actually," he said of his midseason move. "I'm starting to put things together a little bit. When I got up here it was kind of a fresh start, and a little bit of a change in scenery. New team dynamic kind of gives you a chance to press the restart button."

"My goal at the beginning of the season was to end up in Double-A, and it happened a little bit earlier than I thought it would but I'm not complaining," he continued. "There's a great group of guys here and a great coaching staff, so it's fun. It's good to face some of the best competition and minor league baseball and seeing what you're really made of."

With Binghamton, McHugh originally saw action both out of the bullpen and as a starter, but in recent weeks his bullpen appearances have dwindled.

While he has shown signs of improvement in Binghamton, McHugh has still continued to struggle. Through eight appearances (seven starts), his Double-A Era stands at 5.06, and he has allowed 39 hits over 37.1 innings. One notable difference between the two levels -- Double-A opposition is hitting .257 off McHugh after Florida State League opponents roughed him up at a .318 clip.

"The difference between here and St. Lucie isn't that drastic, but hitters here are a little bit more patient and aren't afraid to take a strike or two and make you pound the zone," McHugh said. "You've really got to throw the ball across the plate, and it's been a challenge but a good one I think."

McHugh's strikeout rate has dipped a bit since moving up to Double-A (8.4 K/9 in Binghamton, 9.8 K/9 in St. Lucie), but he has traded that for the addition of a new pitch. The development of his cutter has helped to lower his ERA, but successfully utilizing his curveball, changeup and sinker is key to surrendering fewer hits.

"This year my cutter's been a big deal for me," he said. "I was working on it at the end of last year, but it's been good to throw into lefties and away from righties. You've really got to mix well and use all of your pitches."

Binghamton's coaching staff has been a big help for McHugh, who understands the importance of their Major League experience. Manager Wally Backman and pitching coach Marc Valdes combined to play more than 20 years in the big leagues.

"They complement each other well," McHugh said. "They're both intense guys who like to win, and they've been around the game a long time. They've been to the big league level and they know how to play the right way."

For McHugh, working with Valdes to take each outing pitch by pitch has had a substantial impact on his approach. Valdes, who stresses the approach with every member of his staff, has worked with all of his pitchers to limit looking too far ahead.

"You can't pitch 10 pitches in advance, you have to make your one pitch and make it as much of a quality pitch as you possibly can," McHugh said. "That's the way you get outs, and it's worked."

McHugh, who keeps a blog titled "A Day Older, A Day Wiser," frequently writes about the minor league experience and the uncertainty of his future, focusing on improving right now rather than down the line.

= "You can't really look too far into the future, especially in minor league baseball," he said. "I don't try and put too much though into where I'll end up or how I'm going to get there and how soon. I just want to play better every day and make better pitches every time I go out."


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nRight-hander Collin McHugh is working his way through the New York Mets farm system, and he's making pretty much every stop along the way.\r\n

\r\nIn the last year and a half alone, McHugh has donned the jerseys of both Class-A Savannah and High-A St. Lucie, and now, after a midseason promotion, Double-A Binghamton.\r\n

\r\nMcHugh, who was selected by the Mets in the 18th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of Berry College, began the 2011 campaign with St. Lucie, and in nine appearances with the club (six starts), he posted a 1-2 record and 6.31 ERA. In 35.2 innings, he surrendered 47 hits and 25 earned runs.\r\n

\r\nFor McHugh, moving up to Binghamton was a chance to put his High-A struggles behind him, but also an opportunity to build on his successes. In the same 35.2 innings, McHugh struck out 39 batters.\r\n

\r\n\"I think it's been good actually,\" he said of his midseason move. \"I'm starting to put things together a little bit. When I got up here it was kind of a fresh start, and a little bit of a change in scenery. New team dynamic kind of gives you a chance to press the restart button.\"\r\n

\r\n\"My goal at the beginning of the season was to end up in Double-A, and it happened a little bit earlier than I thought it would but I'm not complaining,\" he continued. \"There's a great group of guys here and a great coaching staff, so it's fun. It's good to face some of the best competition and minor league baseball and seeing what you're really made of.\"\r\n

\r\nWith Binghamton, McHugh originally saw action both out of the bullpen and as a starter, but in recent weeks his bullpen appearances have dwindled. \r\n

\r\nWhile he has shown signs of improvement in Binghamton, McHugh has still continued to struggle. Through eight appearances (seven starts), his Double-A Era stands at 5.06, and he has allowed 39 hits over 37.1 innings. One notable difference between the two levels -- Double-A opposition is hitting .257 off McHugh after Florida State League opponents roughed him up at a .318 clip.\r\n

\r\n\"The difference between here and St. Lucie isn't that drastic, but hitters here are a little bit more patient and aren't afraid to take a strike or two and make you pound the zone,\" McHugh said. \"You've really got to throw the ball across the plate, and it's been a challenge but a good one I think.\"\r\n

\r\nMcHugh's strikeout rate has dipped a bit since moving up to Double-A (8.4 K/9 in Binghamton, 9.8 K/9 in St. Lucie), but he has traded that for the addition of a new pitch. The development of his cutter has helped to lower his ERA, but successfully utilizing his curveball, changeup and sinker is key to surrendering fewer hits.\r\n

\r\n\"This year my cutter's been a big deal for me,\" he said. \"I was working on it at the end of last year, but it's been good to throw into lefties and away from righties. You've really got to mix well and use all of your pitches.\"\r\n

\r\nBinghamton's coaching staff has been a big help for McHugh, who understands the importance of their Major League experience. Manager Wally Backman and pitching coach Marc Valdes combined to play more than 20 years in the big leagues.\r\n

\r\n\"They complement each other well,\" McHugh said. \"They're both intense guys who like to win, and they've been around the game a long time. They've been to the big league level and they know how to play the right way.\"\r\n

\r\nFor McHugh, working with Valdes to take each outing pitch by pitch has had a substantial impact on his approach. Valdes, who stresses the approach with every member of his staff, has worked with all of his pitchers to limit looking too far ahead.\r\n

\r\n\"You can't pitch 10 pitches in advance, you have to make your one pitch and make it as much of a quality pitch as you possibly can,\" McHugh said. \"That's the way you get outs, and it's worked.\"\r\n

\r\nMcHugh, who keeps a blog titled \"A Day Older, A Day Wiser,\" frequently writes about the minor league experience and the uncertainty of his future, focusing on improving right now rather than down the line.\r\n

=\r\n\"You can't really look too far into the future, especially in minor league baseball,\" he said. \"I don't try and put too much though into where I'll end up or how I'm going to get there and how soon. I just want to play better every day and make better pitches every time I go out.\"\r\n

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