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7.0 years ago

STLToday - Alton pitcher stands tall as draft prospect - 6/3/2015

Alton pitcher stands tall as draft prospect

 
 
7 hours ago  •  

Standing atop a 10-inch pitcher’s mound, 6-foot-8 Bryan Hudson is an imposing sight for high school hitters, even before he begins his motion and his hand releases a baseball from roughly nine feet above ground level.

And if Hudson is throwing his nasty curveball, it is apt to drop to a hitter’s ankles, a phenomenon that helped the Alton High senior accumulate more than 300 career strikeouts.

“It’s a pitch high-schoolers aren’t accustomed to seeing,” Alton coach Todd Haug said. “This isn’t his coach saying this, but Baseball America and some in the major leagues say it’s the best high-school curve in the country.”

All of that and more have made Hudson the area’s best high school prospect and a player who is projected to be selectedin the top three rounds of next week’s major league draft.

Hudson finished the season with a 10-2 record, 0.47 ERA and 152 strikeouts, which broke his own single-season school record. He allowed 35 hits in 75 1/3 innings. He has signed with Missouri, but the outcome of the draft will help determine if he ever makes it to Columbia.

Hudson is listed at No. 71 on mlb.com‘s list of the top draft prospects, and he is No. 100 as rated by Baseball America. And it’s that curve that gets talked about everywhere.

 

“The only thing promised to me right now is going to Mizzou,” Hudson said. “Me and my adviser have talked about it and have a set (dollar) number. It’s not a matter of what round. If it’s not what I want, I’m going to Mizzou.”

Alton’s season ended Monday when the Redbirds and Hudson were defeated by Edwardsville in the regional championship game 5-2 as the Tigers scored three unearned runs in the fifth inning. It was a tough ending to a record-breaking high school career.

Haug first saw Hudson when he was in the sixth grade. However, he was not exceedingly tall at that point. As a lefthander, though, he warranted monitoring.

He arrived in high school at about 6-1 and took off between his freshman and sophomore years, growing at least four inches.

“It happened real quick and I was kind of uncoordinated,” Hudson said. “My sophomore year it took a while to adjust. But it kind of helped with everything. The arm angle and everything changed.”

Hudson throws his fastball in the 90-92 mph range with a teenager’s build, carrying 220 pounds. Haug said he is projected to reach upward of 250. He said if that is the case Hudson’s velocity could increase to the mid-90s or faster.

Since his sophomore year, keeping up with his size has not proved to be a problem.

“He’s a tremendous athlete,” Haug said. “He’s not a typical gangly, oafish tall pitcher. He’d be a Division I basketball player if he wanted and would be our center fielder if we weren’t trying to protect him.”

But Haug took advantage of Hudson’s bat. He hit .436 with four home runs and 49 RBIs in 37 games.Exactly half of his 48 hits went for extra bases.

But really, it’s all about his arm. The MLB site called him the best pitching prospect from Illinois since 2010.

“Hudson is an extremely athletic and projectable lefthander, whose stock continues to improve as the draft approaches,” said the website’s analysis. “He’s a safe bet to go in the top three rounds, with some talk that he could become a supplemental first-rounder.”

Haug said it became apparent during Hudson’s sophomore year that he was a big-time prospect. He wasn’t recording a lot of strikeouts, but it was the year that suddenly no one could make solid contact. The crowd of scouts at his games began and continued to grow until he had the likes of Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein watching.

That stuff, though, doesn’t seem to faze Hudson. Haug said the most impressive thing about the entire process has been his player’s ability to look past the attention. Hudson doesn’t attempt to exploit the fear factor of his size, but rather is openly friendly with opponents.

Haug called Hudson a throwback to the 1980s and 1990s when players didn’t have an entourage in tow.

“He’s a very legitimate, once-in-a-coaching-career type player,” Haug said “You don’t have to be this imposing figure to be successful. It just so happens that he is.”

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