Friday, January 18, 2008
Rising from the Ashes: John Hudgins
I don't imagine this post will be of interest to most, but it's one I'm compelled to make as a card carrying member of the John Hudgins fan club.
Hudgins is my all-time favorite college pitcher, due to his stellar work at Stanford University, but he vanished off the face of the baseball map in 2007. When a player's prospect status slips away, the media coverage slips away as well. It becomes difficult to find out much information on him, despite a fairly in-depth bit of research.
When he went missing in 2007, I had feared that he had decided to hang it up when he seemed to be on the verge of reaching the big league level, but in actuality he underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2007 season. However, Hudgins arrived back in the professional ranks in time for the Arizona Fall League. Perhaps not unexpectedly, he performed poorly in limited work, but ultimately what's important is that he made it back on the mound.
Hudgins had an epic 2003 college baseball season. He went 14-3 with a 2.99 ERA, striking out 143 hitters in 165.1 innings pitched. In addition, he won Most Outstanding Player in the College World Series, where he went 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 24.0 innings. His final outing of his collegiate career was a gritty performance on only three days rest. He scattered 10 hits and allowed 3 runs with 5 strikeouts in 7.0 innings to earn the victory in an 8-3 win over Rice.
In the professional ranks, Hudgins has a career 4.13 ERA with a 1.30 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, and a 8.2 K/9. Hudgins lacks top notch stuff, but he's a very cerebral pitcher and does have a plus changeup. He has an innate understanding of how to pitch and uses that knowledge to keep hitters off-balance. To succeed, he really has to out-think the hitters and he is fully capable of doing so. A couple years ago, I thought he would be a quality Rule V selection, but he wasn't taken and subsequently got injured.
There's a nice article about him on scout.com, which you can access here. The article talks about Hudgins, but also a brief mention about the differing player development strategies of the Rangers and Padres.
Hudgins' stuff prevents him from being a top of the rotation guy, but his baseball IQ and gritty style may make him a solid back of the rotation pitcher. However, injuries have retarded his career. He's already 26 and time is running out for him to establish himself as an MLB pitcher. Regardless, for now, it's just good to see him get back on the mound, but I'm still pulling for him to succeed in the show and then settle into a long career as a pitching coach, educating throwers on the true art of pitching.
Now that I've fulfilled my obligations to the John Hudgins fans around the world, it's back to our regularly scheduled programming.