Prospect Report: Daniel Hudson

The Chicago White Sox have never been an organization to shy away from the unorthodox.  The make trades that other teams may never even consider and they are not afraid to give youngsters an opportunity, which sets the stage for Daniel Hudson.

Drafted in the fifth round in 2008, Hudson pitched at four different minor league levels in 2009 (and a cup of coffee in the Majors), impressing every step of the way, posting a cumulative Minor League line of:

14 Wins
147.1 Innings
2.32 ERA
0.94 WHIP
166 Strikeouts (10.16 K/9)
34 Walks (2.08 BB/9)
.287 BABIP

Before we speculate that his success was simply at lower levels, he went 7-0 with a 1.60 ERA in nine Double-A starts and 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in five Triple-A starts.  That’s nine of his 14 victories and also was 80.1 innings, more than half of what he threw in the minors.  He walked just 19 batters (2.13 BB/9) and struck out 87 (9.78 K/9).  Needless to say he was just productive, no matter what the level he played.

While the BABIP was realistic, it is likely that he gives up a few more home runs in the major leagues.  He allowed just five in the minor leagues, a HR/9 of 0.30, despite allowing a flyball rate of 33.8%.  The long balls are going to increase, meaning his ERA in the Majors will take a bit of a hit, obviously.

In the Major Leagues at the end of the 2009 season, going 1-1 in two starts (18.2 innings), pitching to a 3.46 ERA and 1.37 WHIP.  At 22-years old, he may be primed to make an impact in 2010.

Back in August, Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune talked about Hudson’s arsenal after a start against the Orioles Triple-A squad, saying:

“Hudson’s fastball was 91-92 m.p.h. Friday night, a bit lower than it has been at times. His slider and changeup were sharp, and he showed poise after five of the first nine Norfolk hitters reached base against him. Hahn (White Sox Assistant General Manager) likened him to a cross between Gavin Floyd and the Angels’ Jered Weaver.”

To further get a feel for his stuff, Kirk Champion, the White Sox minor league pitching coach, told the Chicago Tribune in a separate article:

“Velocity, a plus changeup and the ability to get swings and misses on his slider. … If I sound excited about him, it’s because I’ve seen him step in and climb over other guys I liked all season long, in three buildings.”

The fact that he threw 166.0 innings in 2009 certainly works in his favor, as there isn’t likely to be an innings limit placed on him for 2010, at least not one that should have an impact.  The question is, will there be a spot in the rotation available for him?  The top four starters are set, without question, barring an injury:

  1. Jake Peavy
  2. Mark Buehrle
  3. Gavin Floyd
  4. John Danks

That final spot, however, could be wide open.  Freddy Garcia may be the early favorite, as the team exercised their 2010 option on him back in October.  However, he’s made just 23 starts over the past three seasons, so there is no guarantee that he is going to enter 2010 healthy.  Even if he is, considering he has not posted a sub 4.00 ERA since 2005 and wasn’t able to convince the pitching starved Mets that he was capable of taking the ball speaks volumes.

That doesn’t even mention the potential health of Jake Peavy…

The opportunity could easily be there for Hudson, who clearly has the stuff to succeed.  He should get the chance to win the Number Five rotation spot out of Spring Training.

When you have a pitcher who has shown tremendous control and the ability to get swings and misses, he needs to be on fantasy radars.  Those in long-term keeper leagues should be eyeing him immediately.  Yearly league owners want to be monitoring him for when the chance comes.  Either way, he has the ability to be an impact pitcher in all formats in 2010.

What are your thoughts on Hudson?  Could he make an impact in 2010?  Should he be the White Sox #5 starter?

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