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.
Can he help the Orioles in 2012? Will he?
Not unless there’s another move; he signed a minor-league contract with the Diamondbacks.
Is he a major-league pitcher?
He’s a longshot to do much in the major leagues in 2012, or for that matter at any time in the future. His backstory is much more interesting than his pitching ability. Apparently undrafted out of the University of Oklahoma, he spent four years in low-level independent leagues before getting a chance with the American Association in 2007. He pitched well and was signed by Seattle to help them finish out the 2007 season. He pitched just well enough to stick with the organization in 2008, and pitched brilliantly. He made the Mariners in 2009 and pitched unimpressively as a spot starter / long reliever; was claimed on waivers by the Pirates and was probably injured for most 0f 2010 (12 total appearances); and was signed as a free agent by the Orioles for 2011.
Jakubauskas was hurt for April, and spent most of May working himself back into shape at Norfolk. He started out pitching poorly but pitched better as the month wore on. He was recalled to Baltimore at the end of May and didn’t pitch well.
Jakubausakas is 33. He has not done anything in the major leagues to indicate that he can pitch, and in fact aside from half of 2007 and all of 2008 hasn’t done anything outside of the majors, either, to indicate that he can pitch. He’s an AAA innings-eater, someone who can stay in a AAA rotation and not drive the team to frustration. But there’s no evidence that he’s anything better than that.