Rhyne Hughes, first baseman
Does he have a future?
His future is very uncertain after he was suspended for fifty games after testing positive for amphetamine use. He’s a minor league free agent, and will have to miss the first fifty games after he signs.
Last season, Hughes increased his power (.216 slugging percentage – batting average in 2011; .162 in 2010) and his walk rate while sacrificing contact. Unfortunately, Norfolk’s Harbor Park, with a very short right-field fence and an immense center field, is very kind to left-handed low-average power hitters. So it’s hard to judge if Hughes’ changes are real, or park-driven. When you include his drug suspension and the fact that he turned 28 at the end of the 2011 season, I’d say he’s a longshot to play in the minors in 2012.
Based on his last two seasons, Hughes projected as a .250 hitter who could hit 12-18 home runs in a full major-league season. He’s not a particularly good first baseman. Even without the baggage, he wouldn’t project as a major-league player.