I have waxed poetic about Bryan Hudson before on Cubs Insider. Last Saturday, I got to watch Hudson make his short season debut for Eugene. He came across very poised and professional, never did he seem rattled. I must admit, it looked like he has put on some weight since last year. As for his pitching, he threw everything off his fastball which sat around 89-90 that night. On Friday night, last night, I sat down about 9 p.m. to watch his second start. For five innings, the young 19 year-old looked like a veteran yanking the chains of hitters at will.
Hudson stands 6’8” tall and has a smooth effortless delivery. Last night, he threw mostly fastballs and changeups, again, only throwing his big breaking curve a few times. Hudson is basically a control master who throws on a downhill plane toward the plate. As a result, from his height, hitters do not get a good angle on the ball. So, he gets a lot of ground balls. Of the 15 outs he got last night, 10 came via the groundball variety, 4 were Ks, and the other out came in a ground ball double play. As I watched the game, I wrote down what type of ground balls he got. Here are some of the descriptions:
Weak groundout to third
Weak high chopper to third
Slow roller to second
Weak grounder to 2nd
Weak grounder to short
I think you get the picture. He only gave up two hard hit balls all night. One was a single and the other was a hard hit ball nabbed by first baseman Chris Pieters.
As for his pitches, the fastballs were in the upper 80s, 87-88. He topped out at 89 and 90 a couple of times. To be honest, it did not look like he put much effort into his delivery to get to 87-88, which is good. That adds to his deception. There were a couple of times I noted that hitters in the box looked “uncomfortable” in the box and swinging – almost desperate in their attitude and action.
For the night, Hudson threw 78 pitches in 5 innings. He gave up one hit, 2 BBs, 1 HBP, 0 Runs, and struck out 4. He lowered his ERA after two starts to 0.90. He rarely got into deep counts. Most at bats involved 4-5 pitches. And rarely did anyone from Spokane get in the box and swing at the first pitch, either.
What I came away with in watching Hudson pitch was how he looks on the mound. This was not an exercise in effort for him. He knows how he wants to attack hitters. He throws pitches down in the zone and gets a lot of ground ball outs. At higher levels, those might turn into popups. But, in reality, only two batters out of 19 hit the ball hard.
I would like to see him a couple more times to see him break out his noted big bender some more. I have talked to a couple of people about him and they think he might move a little faster because he is so poised, so effortless, and so efficient. I don’t know about that right now, but I do know, he is off to a very, very good start.