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Bombers take California righty
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2004 First-Year Player Draft
06/07/2004  1:54 PM ET
Bombers take California righty
High school pitcher first of Yankees' 2004 draft picks
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NEW YORK -- The Yankees consider this year's draft to be one of the most important in recent memory, with four selections among the first 42. New York kicked off its day by selecting Philip Hughes, a right-handed pitcher from Foothill High School in Santa Ana, Calif.

Hughes, who will turn 18 on June 24, is an imposing figure at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, who features a good fastball, a big-league slider and a solid changeup.

"He was a guy we thought we had a chance to get at 23, but we had him ranked higher than that on our draft board," said Gordon Blakeley, the club's senior vice president of player personnel. "We sweated it out toward the end there."

According to Blakeley, Hughes' fastball has been clocked in the mid-90s, though he would not speculate how long it would take the youngster to climb the minor-league ladder and make it to the Bronx.

"He'll move along based on how he does," Blakeley said. "We won't rush him. It wouldn't be fair to speculate like that."

Hughes went 9-1 this season with a 0.69 ERA, striking out 83 and walking just three batters in 61 innings. Hughes allowed 41 hits, holding opponents to a .181 batting average.

In 2003, Hughes went 12-0 with a 0.78 ERA. In 72 innings, Hughes struck out 85 and walked 19, holding hitters to a .192 average. Before the draft, Hughes was ranked No. 16 among prospects by Baseball America.

"He has everything we looked for, including his makeup," Blakeley said. "He's from a good background, a good family, and those things are important. To play in New York, you need more than good stuff, you need good makeup."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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