Spring Spotlight: Do Strong Starts From Dakota Hudson & Chance Sisco Put Them On Our Radar?

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We all know that we don’t want to put too much stock into strong spring statistics, because often it comes against “lesser” competition while more established stars are rounding into form. That doesn’t mean that they are completely meaningless, we just need to be cautious and really dissect the performance. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some notable performances:

Dakota Hudson – St. Louis Cardinals
Spring Statistics – 7.2 IP, 2.35 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 6 K, 0 BB

Entering Spring Training it seemed highly unlikely that Hudson had a chance to open the year as part of the Cardinals’ rotation.  They had a set five, and penetrating the group was hard to imagine:

  1. Miles Mikolas
  2. Carlos Martinez
  3. Jack Flaherty
  4. Michael Wacha
  5. Adam Wainwright

With Alex Reyes also in the mix, where would Hudson fit?  The inevitable injury to Martinez, who may get shifted to the bullpen, and Reyes still working his way back from a lost season has changed the narrative.  Hudson’s performance doesn’t hurt either, now the question is does he have the upside?

Working out of the bullpen in the Majors (27.1 IP), he showed an elite groundball rate (60.8%) but wasn’t generating many strikeouts (6.26 K/9) and struggled with his control (5.93 BB/9).  The latter may have been from learning his new role (3.06 BB/9 over 111.2 IP at Triple-A as a starter), but the former has never been his strong suit:

  • Double-A (2017) – 114.0 IP, 6.08 K/9
  • Triple-A (2018) – 111.2 IP, 7.01 K/9

That said a 10.4% SwStr% at Triple-A does indicate a little bit more upside.  Would it be enough if he posted a 7.5-8.0 K/9?  At the very least he would be a potential streaming option, but with his groundball rate he could be even more than that.

Verdict – Put him on your radar

Chance Sisco – Baltimore Orioles
Spring Statistics – .429 (6-14), 4 HR, 10 RBI, 6 R

Even more impressive than the 4 HR may be the fact that he’s walked (5) more than he’s struck out (4) early this spring.  A 35.4% strikeout rate in the Majors over the past two seasons have been among his biggest issues, and obviously a few AB isn’t going to change that narrative.  It’s promising nonetheless, and hopefully with age/experience has come an adjustment.

We won’t be able to draw that conclusion until we get a bigger sample size and he has to adjust to more advanced pitching who are utilizing their offspeed pitches and breaking balls more.  That’s not to say that he hasn’t faced upper level pitching, as all of his home runs have come against pitchers who should see time in the Majors this season:

  1. Chase De Jong – Minnesota Twins
  2. Eduardo Rodriguez – Boston Red Sox
  3. Tyler Thornburg – Boston Red Sox
  4. Yonny Chirinos – Tampa Bay Rays

He also hasn’t homered since March 1, though playing time could also be factoring into that.  He’s generally shown a good eye at the plate, and while the power hasn’t been there yet becoming more patient and learning how to turn on his pitch could allow him to be tapping into his potential.

With all that said, this recent quote from Jon Meoli of The Baltimore Sun sums up all of our concerns:

Sisco’s spring has been a step forward on a lot of levels, and while the left-handed hitter is not really being pitched the way anyone will pitch him during the season, the fact that he’s doing the damage on the pitches he gets counts for something. His real measures of success will be behind the plate, but he’s been empowered by Hyde and the coaching staff to be bold on the field, and he’s responded.

Time will tell, but don’t get overly excited quite yet.

Verdict – Still only an option in deep, two-catcher formats

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, Baltimore Sun

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