By Todd Johnson
The great thing about missing a minor league game is that I can watch it on MiLB.TV at a later time. Such was the case today. School is still going on, but today there was a field trip so I got to check the score quite a bit this morning as South Bend played a game that began at 9:30 Central. When I got home, I got to sit and enjoy the pitching stylings of Bryan Hudson.
Hudson is a 6’7” and 220 pound left-handed pitcher the Cubs selected in the third round of the 2015 MLB Draft. MLB Pipeline said the following of the young prospect shortly after being drafted.
Hudson had one of the best curveballs in the 2015 high school Draft class, a 75-78 mph bender with depth that should add more power as he fills out his skinny 6-foot-8 frame. He commands his curve well though he tended to rely on it too often as an amateur.
For now, Hudson pitches with an 86-90 mph fastball that tops out at 92. With his arm action, athleticism and projection, he could regularly work in the mid-90s in the future. He has the beginnings of a changeup but didn’t need it much in high school and doesn’t trust the pitch.
Hudson was rarely used that first summer but pitched quite a bit for Eugene in 2016. He struggled pitching 58.2 IP. He had 41 BBs and opponents hit .265 off him. While he only made 13 starts last year, there was some concern heading into 2017 about his command.
As a result, Hudson was held back in extended spring training. All throughout the spring, reports about Hudson’s pitching from Arizona Phil and The Cub Reporter were excellent. Based on that data, I thought Hudson would likely be promoted to South Bend in May. In fact, he made it a week early.
On April 23, Hudson made his first start of the year. Tuesday was his fifth start. Going into the game, he had a 5.21 ERA due largely in part to one poor start where he gave up 7 runs in 3.2 innings. Take away that game and his ERA could have been 2.35.
All things taken into account, I was really looking forward to his start. I love his curveball. When he attacks the zone this year, he has pitched well. When he nibbles, he gives up walks like he did last year.
The first thing I noticed right away is that it looks like Hudson has moved to the third base side of the rubber. Earlier this year, I thought he was in the middle of the rubber. The 3rd base side has to be intimidating angle for a right-handed hitter, especially his curve. The ball has less distance to travel and being there allows the ball to get up on and in on righties.
I came away impressed as Bryan looked very patient all day. He wasn’t rushed, he pitched down in the zone, and he moved the ball around all day. He gave up 3 hits, 2 walks and struck out 2. He had 10 ground ball outs and 2 fly outs. It was a good day for him as he only threw 70 pitches, 41 for strikes.
He said of his day,
Infographic by South Bend Cubs
I think Hudson just needs to do more of the same as he did today. He is working on a change, but he’s still mainly working off the fastball/curve combo. I love the fact he got so many ground balls today and he was able to work out of trouble in the fourth and fifth with some help from the defense up the middle.
He just turned 20 on May 8. I don’t think he needs a heap of expectations placed on him. He looks like a vastly different pitcher from what I saw at Eugene last year. And, he looks much more confident than the pitcher I saw just a month ago.