On The Cusp





CHICAGO—Righthander Daniel Hudson, a mystery man as he hurtled upward through the White Sox farm system a year ago, has become a security blanket for Ozzie Guillen.

Hudson won games in five different levels in 2009, including the big leagues. He competed well in spring training, doing enough to make the big league club, according to Guillen, but the manager added, "we just didn't have a space for him."

With righthander Freddy Garcia in line to open the season as Guillen's fifth starter, Hudson was considered as a bullpen option before being shipped to Triple-A Charlotte, where he is continuing his education as a starter, though off to a rough start with a 9.37 ERA in 16 innings.

Few saw this coming when Hudson was pitching for Old Dominion in 2008, when the White Sox made him a fifth-round pick. But he has greatly improved his command and generates tremendous movement with all his pitches, including a low-90s fastball. He throws across his body, similar to the Angels' Jered Weaver, and hides the ball well in his delivery.

Pitching coach Don Cooper got acquainted with Hudson last September, when the 23-year-old made six appearances, including two starts. This spring he was impressed with how Hudson picked up where he left off.

"You wouldn't call Hudson a surprise, but he's (thrown) the ball very well," Cooper said. "He came ready to go and compete. He knew what was at stake and he (didn't) disappoint in any way."

Hudson hung close to Jake Peavy and other veteran pitchers during the spring, trying to learn as much as possible.

"One of the best teammates I've had since being in pro ball," Hudson said of Peavy. "I like watching him pitch. Just the way he competes is really awesome."

CHI-LITES

• Low Class A Kannapolis got 13 shutout innings from its bullpen in a 3-2, 20-inning win over Rome on April 20. Ryan Buch, Brandon Kloess, Drew O'Neil, Jimmy Ballinger and Garrett Johnson were the relievers who kept hanging zeroes.

• Trayce Thompson, who received a $625,000 bonus as a second-round pick last year, wasn't on Kannapolis' Opening Day roster but is now playing center field there. He was hitting .333/.404/.690 with three home runs in 11 games.