Dakota Hudson (Springfield Cardinals FANatic Photos)

St. Louis Cardinals pitching prospect Dakota Hudson has the results and consistency to be considered for a late-season promotion to Triple-A

St. Louis Cardinals pitching prospect Dakota Hudson has the results and consistency to be considered for a late-season promotion to Triple-A. The right-hander and his manager discuss progress made and work remaining ahead.

While Jack Flaherty took the Texas League by storm through two months at Double-A Springfield and Matt Pearce has been Mr. Consistency in the rotation, one of the least talked-about starters has quietly put together a strong first half and could be in a position to get a taste of Triple-A Memphis before season's end.

That starter entered 2017 as Springfield's No. 4 hurler, who had reached Double-A at the end of his draft year as a post-season reliever.

In a relatively aggressive assignment for his first full season, Dakota Hudson has passed the test with flying colors so far.


Following modest results during April, Hudson has picked up steam since the start of May, collecting six straight quality starts (over seven outings, 3.25 ERA in 33 2/3 innings).

On the season, the righty has been consistent, working into the sixth inning and allowing no more than three earned runs in 10 of his 11 starts.

One of the big keys has been inducing quick groundouts while keeping a low pitch count.

"I'm more of a sinkerball pitcher," Hudson said. "I'm just trying to get through as many innings as quickly as possible. I think that's about attacking the strike zone and do my best to work deeper into games."

While he may not miss many bats, Hudson has taken advantage of a sinkerball-heavy approach with a whopping 78 groundouts to only 18 fly outs through 66 1/3 innings pitched in 2017.

"He's very, very mature," Springfield manager Johnny Rodriguez said, who added that Hudson has an advanced feel to pitching beyond his youth. "Might be the most mature guy we have here. Of all the players, our most mature player. His presence - it is big-leagues pretty much. It's a big-league presence the way he goes about his business.

"His workouts, his preparations, everything. It's big-leagues."

The former Mississippi State bulldog said he has gained a better grasp of the Texas League, especially against more balanced offenses compared to the Southeastern Conference.

"Guys here mentally and the skill-level, they hit," Hudson said. "They hit more mistakes. You have to think things through more differently. There are more adjustments made like in-game.

"They are more disciplined, for sure. Throughout a lineup, you may see one or two guys which is for a good college team. Here, it's one through nine. Some of the pitchers are even good at hitting."

Hudson mixes and matches different variations of fastballs, a traditional four-seam offering in addition to a hard cutter and the aforementioned sinker.

"The cutter can be a swing-and-miss pitch," he added. "Lately, I have been trying to get it off the end of the bat and create some weak contact and keep them off my fastball a little bit. I feel like that's how I've used it lately."

Scouts say Hudson has above-average movement on all his pitches and at times that can cause his control and command to waver, but his ability to generate early groundouts allows him to be "effectively wild."

"Effectively wild - very well said," Rodriguez said. "That is a guy that has stuff like that. He's got so much finish. He knows how to get off the plate. Get back on the plate. When he gets back on the plate, he has so much movement that he can get outs even if he walked two guys.

"With the cutter, that's going to happen. He's going to have those days where it runs in and run out. The two-seamer will go here. The cutter will no doubt there. He'll be around the plate; it's just got to be close enough to get the swings at and get soft contact which is what it is... soft contact."

The Dunlap, Tennessee resident, who attended Sequatchie County High School, addressed where his secondary offerings are in terms of refinement.

"I feel like right now the changeup is what I'm working on the most," Hudson said. "Just trying to get it into games and figure out how to get it into my mix. Curveball - just maintaining good spin and keeping it down in the zone, working my fastball around it."

Hudson's advanced present ability has piqued the interest of many pro scouts, including one, who said that with additional improvements with his secondary stuff, Hudson could eventually develop into a No. 2 starter at the big-league level.

“He's definitely got the makings of a real solid starter in the big leagues, barring injury which I don't see, as it's not a high-risk delivery," Rodriguez said in a postgame interview earlier this season. "It comes out of his hand well. There's not a lot of things going on with him. His delivery's just getting after it.

"It's a low-risk delivery. Pretty easy. He's a very mature individual and has a lot of mound presence in him."

Hudson has plenty of room for improvement in the coming months for Springfield as he readies himself for the next level ahead in the Pacific Coast League. For now, he is focusing on his craft.

"Just be more efficient and more consistent," he said. "Maybe eliminate some of the mistakes I've made and just be able to kind of think through at-bats. Just kind of work through games more consistently.

"That's my big thing."


Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

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