Phil Hughes is thriving in Minnesota (and away from New York)

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Once upon a time Phil Hughes was the best pitching prospect in baseball, but his Yankees career came to a disappointing end last season as he went 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA in 146 innings before hitting the open market as a free agent.

Minnesota signed Hughes to a three-year, $24 million contract anyway, believing that getting out of New York would help him rediscover the potential he once had as a prospect. And so far at least it’s gone exactly according to plan for the Twins.

Hughes tossed seven shutout innings against the Padres last night to improve to 5-1 with a 3.15 ERA, including a fantastic 47/6 K/BB ratio in 54 innings. That strikeout rate of 7.8 per nine innings is right around Hughes’ career mark of 7.6, but the walk rate is totally uncharacteristic.

Last season Hughes walked 2.6 batters per nine innings and his career walk rate is 2.7 per nine innings. This year he’s walked 1.0 per nine innings and Hughes is currently on a streak of 147 consecutive batters without issuing a walk. That includes five straight zero-walk starts, during which time Hughes is 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA and 27/0 K/BB ratio in 33 innings.

It’s early still, but so far $24 million for three seasons is looking like one of the offseason’s best investments.

The Marlins made another trade for international bonus pool money

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The Miami Marlins’ primary offseason goal thus far appears to be acquiring as much international bonus pool money as possible. Last week they traded their closer to the Nationals to get some. This morning they traded a couple of low-level prospects to the Astros to get more. Specifically, they traded lefty reliever Brayan de Paula and outfielder Adonis Giron to Houston for an unknown amount of slot money.

De Paula, 19, has pitched in the Dominican Summer League for the past two seasons while posting a 3.05 ERA and 57/16 K/BB ratio over 59 innings. Giron, 17, has one season of Dominican Summer League experience under his belt, where he hit .255/.331/.362 with three homers in 67 games.

The Marlins have made no secret of the fact that they’re after top international prospect Victor Victor Mesa and, possibly, his younger brother, Victor Mesa, Jr., which would explain the stockpiling of bonus money.