Collin McHugh was claimed off waivers by the Astros on December 18, after spending parts of 2013 with the Rockies and Mets.
McHugh, a 6’2″ 195 lb. righthanded pitcher , originally signed with the New York Mets after being drafted in the 18th round in 2008 out of Berry College in Mount Berry, Georgia. He appeared as primarily a starter during a steady ascent through the Mets farm system, with his best work coming in 2012. Over 148.1 innings pitched spread over the AA and AAA levels, McHugh posted a stellar 2.91 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 8.2 K/9.
Finally promoted to the parent club on August 23, 2012, McHugh started in his major league debut, pitching seven shutout innings and striking out nine. He would make three more starts and four relief appearances with the Mets to finish 2012.
After spending the first six weeks of 2013 in the minors, McHugh was recalled to make four appearances for the Mets. After joining the Rockies organization via trade on June 18, he would spend a month with two different Rockies minor affiliates. He would make only four starts for the Rockies, logging a 1.84 WHIP over 19 innings.
McHugh posts a league average groundball percentage (43.8% in 2013), an attractive trait to the Astros scouting staff. His minor league strikeout rate over four years was 8.8 per 9 innings pitched, so it appears that the major league strikeout rate was an anomaly. If those two traits show steady improvement, McHugh appears to be a strong buy-low candidate for the Astros.
An effective spring could have Collin McHugh breaking camp as a long reliever in the revamped Astros bullpen. Should there be a rash of injuries or ineffectiveness, McHugh could be seen as a rotational band-aid.
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