Prospect McHugh set to make debut Thursday

Prospect McHugh set to make debut Thursday

NEW YORK -- The bright lights of the Majors should not bother Collin McHugh much, simply because he has seen them before.

Though McHugh will make his big league debut when he subs for the injured Johan Santana on Thursday, his last outing came at Fenway Park against Triple-A Pawtucket in the Red Sox's annual prospect showcase. All McHugh did was fire seven shutout innings, marking the second straight year he has submitted a scoreless outing at Fenway.

"It is nice," said McHugh, a right-handed pitcher. "When I went there last year, I was a little bit in awe. This year I got to go, and I felt like you had been there before. Obviously it's not a big league game, but it is a pretty storied big league ballpark and it was pretty fun. Hopefully it translates well."

McHugh's arsenal has certainly translated well as he has climbed the organizational ladder, working his way from an 18th-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft all the way to the Majors. Unlike top prospect Matt Harvey, who jetted through the farm system at rocket speed, McHugh took a scenic route spanning five years and six Minor League affiliates.

If the Mets did not consider him a legitimate prospect before this season, that changed when McHugh went 5-5 with a 2.41 ERA over 12 starts to open the year for Double-A Binghamton. That performance landed him at Triple-A Buffalo, where he struggled briefly before going 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA, 52 strikeouts and 19 walks over his final nine starts.

"I've seen every stop that the Mets have to offer," McHugh said. "They do a good job of developing. It doesn't really matter if you're a first-rounder or a 35th-rounder, they take a lot of pride in you as an organizational piece."