Dakota Hudson’s Slider Echoes Throughout System

The prediction from a Cardinals evaluator came shortly after seeing righthander Dakota Hudson pitch at Mississippi State, on the eve of his first-round selection by the club.

Hudson’s slider, the official said, is going to move fast.

He didn’t mean to the plate. He meant through the system.

The 22-year-old Hudson has kept pace with such projections. He arrived at Double-A Springfield less than a year after being the 34th overall pick and fit in well with the organization’s prospect-rich Texas League rotation.

Through six starts, Hudson recorded a 3.41 ERA with 31 strikeouts and 11 walks in 34.1 innings. He has the sink and cut on his fastball to aid his slider, and that combination could speed his arrival to the majors as a reliever, even as it intrigues the Cardinals to continue developing him as a starter.

The Cardinals keep pitchers in the rotation until their stuff moves them to another role or they need a role filled at a higher level.

Hudson’s longest season had been 56.2 innings in the Cape Cod League in 2015 before he logged more than 100 last season between college and his pro debut. The additional innings give him more of a chance to refine his stuff and to get a feel for how to use it against hitters who have seen him before.

Hudson had shown a knack for the latter with his advanced slider command. He throws it for strikes and also out of the zone as a chase pitch. He can throw the pitch with a sharper break, too, giving him a cutter look.

Hudson showed that during his brief time in big league camp. He hit 96 mph with his two-seam fastball, got meek contact on five balls in play and pitched around some bad luck to record a scoreless inning.

Afterward, the impact of Hudson’s slider echoed through the organization.

“As good as advertised,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.

— Derrick Goold covers the Cardinals for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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