Trenton Bound: Phil Hughes

After weeks of speculation, the rumors have become a reality. Yes, Phil Hughes has been promoted to the Yankees' Double-A affiliate, the Trenton Thunder. After dominating the Florida State League in April and looking ahead to his new challenge, Hughes has little doubt that his success will continue.

It truly was only a matter of time. He showed it at the tail end of the 2005 season, and again here in 2006. Phil Hughes was simply too much for Florida State League hitters. His new challenge will be a historically difficult jump to Double-A. But, after his impressive big league spring training performance and his High-A invincibility, it is hard to imagine Hughes having too much trouble in the Eastern League.

Hughes will join the team at home on Sunday, but will not take the hill until his tentatively scheduled Double-A debut on Thursday, May 4th. With that start, another enormous step will be taken in the development of potential future Yankee ace. There is also no one looking forward to the promotion more than the Yankees' prized right-hander himself, who also comprehends what an opportunity he's been given by the organization.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Hughes told PinstripesPlus.com hours before leaving to join the Thunder. "I'm very happy with the way things have gone [in my career]. I know the Yankees are a tough team to crack at the Major League level, but all I can control is what I do on the field. And, I know that if I take care of business there, then I feel like I'll get my shot when the time is right."

As talented as he may be, there are still so many things for a young, highly touted pitcher such as Hughes to focus on when he takes the mound. With that in mind, focus has always been one of Phil's greatest strengths at such a young age and it seems that he has had everything clicking in the early going in 2006, therefore earning him the promotion.

"I feel like I've been throwing the ball really well and my mechanics have been consistent," the Yankees' number one prospect explained. "Obviously, being able to throw any pitch in any count is going to be huge for me, especially the changeup. So, that's my biggest emphasis right now."

When he takes the mound for his first start in Trenton, Phil Hughes' following is suddenly going to increase rapidly. Now pitching closer to New York and Yankees' fans, those fans are going to begin flocking to see what may very well be the future of their pitching staff in action. So, what should they expect to see?

"Well, my approach has always been to attack hitters and work off my fastball," the 19 year old righty continued. "And, now I have two different breaking balls and a changeup that I feel comfortable throwing."

So much is made of the jump to Double-A for pitchers and hitters alike, but the key for any player is to stick with what got them there and not try to instantly change their game. There's no bigger believer in that than Phil Hughes.

"My game isn't going to change," he told PinstripesPlus.com. "More advanced hitters hit more mistakes, so if I just stick to what's gotten me here, I'll be fine."

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