PinstripesPlus: Which major league pitcher would you compare Phil Hughes to and why?
Vince Brown: Everyone that sees him would compare Phil to a Schilling or Clemens. I think Phil would like to say more like a Schilling but I feel more like a Clemens, either way not bad guys to be compared to. I lean toward Roger because of his quiet presence and unshakable approach.
PP: How would you describe the mental makeup of Phil Hughes?
Vince Brown: Mentally he is nails, I had the good fortune to be Shawn Green's high school coach and last year, when asked in early evaluations, my comments were "This is Shawn on the mound." Very bright, very quiet but taking everything in and making all the right filters. He is solid.
PP: Is he the best player you ever coached? Why or why not?
Vince Brown: Best pitcher. Incredible control as a power pitcher.
PP: What would you say that Phil's main weakness is?
Vince Brown: His fastball is a little straight, [but his] slider though makes up for it. Has a very good change just needs to develop more confidence in the change and throw it for strikes more often
PP: How would you describe his style of pitching?
Vince Brown: POWER. Not afraid to challenge in, is best when using all three pitches.
PP: What is his best pitch and how does he use it?
Vince Brown: I like his slider, the fact that he will throw the fastball in allows him to start the slider middle away and hitters are often left just whiffing.
PP: What characteristic sets him apart from other pitchers of his age?
Vince Brown: His maturity on the mound. I can not remember in the past two years him ever looking phased by anything that was happening. Be it errors on the field or mistakes on his part.
PP: What are his leadership skills like?
Vince Brown: Phil is not a natural leader, I don't think this is something he would like to have as a tag. He works hard, plays the game with tremendous respect and can be a role model for others, but I don't think he really would like to be the leader.
PP: What was his greatest performance that made you or possibly others think that he had the stuff to get to the big leagues?
Vince Brown: I can't really lock down on any one performance. I still think what he did his Junior year in High School on the mound is incredible. 12-0 and 0.78 ERA in Southern California with the level of teams we play. He was simply amazing and obviously made me and many others a believer that season.
PP: Was there ever a turning point in his career that made him the pitcher he is today?
Vince Brown: I have always said Phil's wake-up call came his sophomore year in Scottsdale, Arizona. We were blessed with two senior pitchers at the time and Phil saw limited time, but he got the start in the first game of the Tournament against the host school under the lights. It was not a good night for Phil, he got hit around pretty good but that night left Phil with the foundation of what it was going to take to be successful when he became the guy. Phil, as many young pitchers with a good arm, thought the fastball was going to get it done. He found out that evening that we throw the change and slider for strikes and we locate the fastball. That night he was afraid to challenge hitter with the off speed stuff and had to throw strikes with the fastball. Not a pretty sight no matter how hard you throw.
PP: What type of adjustments do you think Phil might have to make moving into the pros from a pitching or mental standpoint?
Vince Brown: The next few months will be huge, so many expectations and out of the security of his home and friends. I think he will figure out the pitching part real quickly, coaches will find him a dream to work with. He makes changes over night. I think his mental approach on the field will not waiver, it will be all the personal changes living away from home, traveling, hotels. This will be his biggest adjustment. I know that Shawn Green loved the minor league life. Play late, eat late and wake up late each day. Performing every 5 days and having this new lifestyle will be his biggest adjustment.
PP: What kind of expectations do you have for Phil in his baseball career?
Vince Brown: I am very proud of Phil, he will be GREAT. He has a tremendous top end, tremendous potential and I believe he will mature into a future superstar. He hasn't even turned 18 yet. He will be a workhorse like the Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens.
PP: If you had one piece of advice for him, what would it be?
Vince Brown: I could never only give one. Remember always why you love this game, play every game to beat the game, remember those that love YOU for being YOU because they will always be there, you own the plate don't ever let them take it from you.
PP: Was getting drafted by a pro team, especially the Yankees, the best thing for Phil's career?
Vince Brown: I believe so. When you are a power pitcher you should be at that level and obviously what a GREAT organization to be a part of. I think the Yankees will have the patience to bring Phil along correctly and give him the time to mature into the player I know we all hope he does.
PinstripesPlus.com would like to thank Foothill High School Athletic Director, Vince Brown for taking the time to answer our questions. We would also like to thank Frankie Piliere for his help with this piece.