We move forward with more MLB draft preview goodness with a look at Mississippi State University right-hander Dakota Hudson.
In March and early April Hudson was getting good buzz as a definite first round pick and possible top ten candidate following a trio of dominant outings against Vanderbilt, Georgia, and Mississippi. However, he's been more human lately, with a quartet of less impressive April starts against Florida, Texas A&M, LSU, and Alabama and the status of his stock is a bit uncertain at the moment. Let's take a look.
Hudson was a high school pitcher at Dunlap, Tennessee, and while viewed as a solid prospect most observers felt he would do better going to college. He fell to the 36th round in 2015 where he was drafted by the Texas Rangers; he choose Mississippi State instead. He was basically staff-filler as a freshman (4.67, 10/8 K/BB in 17 innings) and sophomore (4.32, 26/11 in 17), showing a live arm but not much refinement.
That changed last summer in the Cape Cod League, Hudson running off a 1.69 ERA in 43 innings with a 41/7 K/BB, showing greatly improved command. He took over as a full-time starter this spring and was very impressive, especially early, but his recent slump has cut into his numbers.
His ERA on April 1st was 0.92 with a 56/18 K/BB in 40 innings with 32 hits allowed.
Currently he has 3.00 ERA in 72 innings over 11 starts with a 74/26 K/BB and 68 hits allowed. He's been giving up a lot more hits lately, which could be some bad BABIP luck, though his strikeout rate is down, too. This is the longest Hudson has pitched in the regular college season and he could be getting tired.
Age 21, Hudson is listed at 6-5, 205. He throws hard, his fastball running at 93-95 MPH with peaks at 97. The pitch isn't straight; indeed, command issues with the heat held him back his first two seasons though that wasn't a problem last summer or through this March. He mixes the fastball with an unfair cutter/slider hybrid in the high-80s. The hard stuff is plus, while his softer curveball and change-up need more work. If he can develop the off-speed stuff in pro ball, he can be a dominant starter.
Hudson still shows some rawness at times and his arm action looks a little long in the back of his delivery to me. Despite some rougher starts recently he should still go in the first round. He could be particularly attractive to teams in the middle of the first round and I can't see him getting past the Cardinals (who have had good luck with similar arms) at 23rd.