McHugh stars in Futures at Fenway

Mets prospect tosses seven scoreless innings for Bisons

By Mike Scandura / Special to | August 18, 2012 4:52 PM

BOSTON -- Some players fly so far under the proverbial radar screen that they're virtually invisible. That may not be the case anymore with Buffalo Bisons right-hander Collin McHugh.

McHugh was at his best Saturday as he blanked Pawtucket on five hits over seven innings, helping the Bisons blank the PawSox, 2-0, in the nightcap of the Futures at Fenway doubleheader.

The Mets' 18th-round pick in the 2008 draft, McHugh (2-4) fanned four, did not walk a batter and threw 63 of 95 pitches for strikes. In the process, he lowered his ERA from 3.77 to 3.39.

"He did a great job," Buffalo manager Wally Backman said. "You can't say enough about Collin. He's definitely on the radar. I know the people above us in New York are watching him pretty close. He deserves a good look."

McHugh was promoted from Double-A Binghamton on June 17. And in 12 International League starts, he's only 2-4.

"He's had some real hard luck," Backman said. "He's come out of a lot of games with the lead and we've coughed up the lead. But he's pitched much better than that 2-4. The one thing in the Minor Leagues is you almost can throw that record right out the door because you're really watching pitch counts. We're a lot more careful here than you might be in the Major Leagues.

"Collin probably could have gone back out for the next inning because he only had 95 pitches. His limit really is 115. But we're getting late in the season and I'm going to try and protect some of these guys as much as I possibly can."

Buffalo scored against Chris Hernandez (1-3) on a fielder's choice by Brad Emaus in the second and Josh Rodriguez's homer into the Green Monster seats in the sixth.

The loss was hard for Hernandez and manager Arnie Beyeler to absorb, considering the left-hander allowed only four hits over six innings and didn't allow a Bison to advance past first base, except in the two innings in which Buffalo scored.

"He did a nice job," Beyeler said. "The leadoff walk scored early. Then he gave up the home run. Today, he didn't pitch well enough to win. We needed zeros, I guess.

"But their guys pitched well. Anytime you throw a shutout up there, they're doing something right. [Hernandez] did do a nice job, he pitched very well tonight. If you go out there and throw six innings and give up two runs every time out, that's a pretty good start. He got us deep into the game like he's supposed to do."

While McHugh might not have been an unlikely star, the same could not be said of Hudson Valley catcher Jake DePew, who stepped on the turf against Lowell batting .185 with no homers and 10 RBIs in 30 games.

But DePew came up a triple short of hitting for the cycle as the Renegades held off the Spinners, 6-5, in Saturday's opener.

DePew lined a two-run single to center in the second, doubled and scored on Joey Rickard's sacrifice fly in the fourth and homered into the Monster seats in the sixth.

"We've made an adjustment lately," DePew said. "We changed my stance a little bit. It's seemed to help so far. I've moved my feet closer together, so I'm standing more upright. It's seemed to work."

And what about coming so close to the cycle?

"It was definitely on my mind," he admitted. "All the guys in the dugout were talking about it. I got a good pitch to hit in my last at-bat, but I didn't hit it as well."

One aspect of DePew's game that he has executed well is what he does behind the plate. And that may enable him to move up the Minor League ladder.

"He receives well and he blocks well," Renegades manager Jared Sandberg said. "He's thrown out almost 40 percent of runners [attempting to steal] this year. The other big thing is he can run a pitching staff. He's a leader back there. He understands the game. He helps out the pitchers, not only with their pitch selection but also helping them control their emotions."

Mike Scandura 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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