Luke Hughes was DFA’d by the Twins today. General consensus in the Twins fan/blog community is surprise. I’m not so surprised. Every time Luke has played this year, it seems he is committing an error (yes, I know he only had one) or allowing a hit where other fielders would have recorded an out. He just isn’t a very good defender. Most young (inexperienced) players aren’t given much rope from Gardy when it comes to bad defense. I’m sure Gardy had a lot to say about Hughes being gone.
Hughes seems like a really good dude, but a guy with a .224/.285/.342 line that profiles as a defensive corner is probably not a guy a team will miss. He hasn’t played a full major league season but his .268/.330/.419 line in the minors isn’t going to blow anyone away either. He’s 27 and he is injury prone. Hughes is probably what his numbers say about him.
Luke may not be a much of major leaguer, but he’s one of my favorite minor league players of all time. Who can forget his HR in his first career at bat vs. Detroit? I was on a mountain bike in the woods and i almost biffed when he hit it. My Hughes fandom has its roots in his 2008 start in AA.
I didn’t even really know Hughes until he started 08 on fire. He was crazy hot to start the year for AA New Britain. Hughes hot-start made milb.com a daily must view for me. I lived in Binghamton, NY at the time and I was as excited to get my first look at Hughes when he came to Binghamton in late April as I have been to see any prospect. All he did while he was in town was go 7-14 with 2 triples, a HR and 2 walks. I loved him! When Hughes got hurt on May 7th, he was hitting a whopping .388/.451/.682 with 9 HRs. After a few games out his first game back was a day game vs. Binghamton. I remember listening to the game at work and Hughes hit a HR in his first at bat. People in my building thought I was crazy after he hit that dinger. Hughes was still awesome. He didn’t have a hit the rest of the game and I remember wondering if it was over.
It was over. Hughes missed a couple stretches due to injury (something that has plagued him his whole career) and couldn’t keep up with his crazy start when he played but he still had a nice .319/.385/.551 line when he got called up to Rochester. He finished the year in Rochester with a decent .283/.325/.453 line as a 23 year old. I was excited about his future and looking forward to his MLB debut.
Luke never again found the magic that he had in April and May of 2008. Sure, his HR in his first MLB at-bat was really cool and he showed some glimpses from time to time, but he never put it all together. He’s never been able to get to 500 plate appearances in any season to due to injury and he has no real defensive position. He has some power, but not enough to play a corner or DH. I would have sent Parmelee to AAA or a pitcher out instead of letting Hughes go but I can’t blame the Twins for cutting Hughes. For tonight, I don’t care about the reasons why Luke is gone, I’ll just miss the guy. Hughes was never a highly rated prospect and this isn’t a what could have been story. This is a time I’ll thank Hughes for the memories, especially that magical spring in 2008.
Thanks Luke, it’s been fun. Good Luck, Mate.