Rhyne Hughes‘ days as a prospect have long since ended. But if his Dominican Winter League stats mean anything, he may have finally corrected the problem that doomed his career up until now.
Dominican Winter League: Aguilas Cibaenas 6, Toros del Este 4
Omar Luna had another rough day for the Aguilas, going just 0 for 5 with a run scored. Luna has just a .221/.289/.287 line on the season, striking out 13 times versus 8 walks but not hitting for any power (8 doubles and no other extra-base hits) and stealing just 3 of 4 bases. He’s hitting .286 against left-handed pitching but just .202 against righties. Sometimes heading to Winter Ball can really help your minor league free agent stock. Coming off a breakout year at Double-A, Luna has taken all the luster off.
Tigres del Licey 8, Gigantes del Cibao
Cibao got 4-hit in this game, but 1 of the 4 came from first baseman Rhyne Hughes, who went 1 for 3 with a walk in the game. Hughes, 29, was in the Rays organization from when they drafted him in the 8th round of the 2004 MLB Draft until they traded him to the Orioles in 2009. Hughes saw big league time with the Orioles in 2010, hitting .213 in 51 plate plate appearances before they sent him back to the minor leagues. Hughes’ problem as a prospect was always a complete lack of patience. In his breakout 2009 between the Rays and Orioles organizations, Hughes posted a .279/.349/.506 line with 35 doubles, 25 homers, and 79 RBI- but struck out 171 times against just 44 walks. That was a recurring theme for Hughes in 2010 and 2011 as well as he managed just a 19-4 strikeout to walk ratio in the big leagues and a 232-65 mark at Triple-A. In 2012, Hughes spent the entire season at Double-A, but he did have a nice season, posting a .278/.370/.504 line with 19 doubles, 13 homers, 51 RBI, and a 74-41 strikeout to walk ratio in 75 games and 313 plate appearances. And his patience may not be such a fluke. In 93 plate appearances, Hughes has a .264/.411/.489 line with 5 doubles, 3 homers, 12 RBI, and most impressive of all, a 21-18 strikeout to walk ratio. The 18 walks lead the DWL. Hughes, a left-handed batter, hasn’t hit lefties at all, going just 2 for 22 although with a good 9-6 strikeout to walk ratio, but he has been great versus right-handed pitching, posting a .340/.468/.660 line with 5 doubles, 3 homers, 12 RBI, and a 12-12 strikeout to walk ratio. Hughes is nothing special at all, but he has a chance to make it back to the big leagues as a platoon first baseman, and with the Rays having nothing going on at first base right now, they’ll have to give him a look this offseason on a minor league contract.