Hughes wins his Triple-A debut

Top prospect works on new changeup, beats Tides

(Kathy Willens/AP )

April 6, 2007 8:28 PM ET

With temperatures near freezing, one of the Minor League's hottest prospects made his Triple-A debut.

Phil Hughes pitched five efficient innings for the win Friday night as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees defeated the Norfolk Tides, 6-3, at PNC Field.

A crowd of 7,269 braved 34-degree temperatures and 14 mph winds to see Hughes (1-0) make his first start of the season. The 20-year-old prodigy did not disappoint, throwing 50 of 74 pitches for strikes.

"I definitely wasn't the coldest guy out there," he said. "But with all the adrenaline, I didn't mind it too much."

Despite striking out six batters, Hughes' control was slightly off as he gave up two runs on two hits and two walks with a hit batter and a wild pitch. Although he is known for a blazing fastball and hard breaking pitches, he was busy working on a third weapon -- a changeup.

"I had a pretty good fastball coming into tonight and I had a pretty good curveball as well. It doesn't make the changeup so important right now, but down the road, I'm definitely going to need [it]," Hughes said.

"Overall, I think I threw it pretty well. I feel confident throwing it. It was kind of a tough night to throw a changeup because it was so cold and dry. I'm going to have better days, but I'm also going to have worse days."

Once Hughes left, the Yankees bullpen clamped down on the Tides, yielding one run on two hits over four innings. Chris Britton worked a scoreless ninth for the save.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre took control with a two-run second. Alberto Gonzalez worked a two-out walk from Norfolk starter Jon Leicester and Chris Basak drilled a two-run homer. Gonzalez was 2-for-3 with two runs scored, while Basak went 2-for-4.

Leadoff man Kevin Thompson also chipped in two hits, stole three bases and scored a run. Eric Duncan contributed a two-run homer in the fifth.

Norfolk got to Hughes in the opening inning, when Mike Cervenak was hit by a pitch with two outs, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Jon Knott's single.

J.R. House was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored for the Tides.

Leicester (0-1) took the loss after giving up three runs on three hits and three walks with four strikeouts in three innings.

Michael Echan is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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