First impression: Dan Hudson

Through his first two innings on Friday night, I figured I would see how Daniel Hudson ended up with his unimpressive line in his Triple-A debut on Sunday (4 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K). He fell behind hitters, and couldn’t really come back with anything besides his fastball.
And then he found his slider.
Hudson finished by retiring 16 of the last 17 Norfolk batters he faced. The only batter to reach did so on a bloop single over the head of the second baseman, and he was erased on a 5-4-3 double play.
Here’s the video of his night.

Some things I noticed (and you might, too):
*Through the first three innings, Hudson’s fastball registered between 91-93 on the radar gun.  Over the last four, he was around 89-90, with an occasional 91.

Dan Hudson (Sox Machine)
Dan Hudson (Sox Machine)
However, I believe (I’m pretty sure, but didn’t keep count) that a majority of his strikeouts came on the fastball, even later in the game.  The aforementioned effectiveness of the slider helped keep hitters off-balance.
He looked like he used to a two-seamer (85-87), a change (82ish) and a slider that he added to and subtracted from. The slowest one I saw clocked in at 78, the harder ones 81-82.
*He’s seen a decrease in groundouts during his ascension, and Friday was no exception: just three groundouts to 12 flyouts.
*When he misses, he misses down. He didn’t work up in the zone that often (although he managed to pump three fastballs above the belt past a batter later in the game). That might explain how he’s given up just four homers over 134 1/3 innings this year.
Really, there wasn’t a single ball hit hard against him all night.  The Norfolk lineup produced several legitimate flies, but none that caused a heart to stop. He induced more pop-ups, flares off the end of the bat, etc., than anything resembling a well-struck ball.
*He works pretty quickly. He also does a muted Ryan Dempster-type glove waggle from the stretch.
The $64,000 question: Can he contribute to the Sox this year?
I would hesitate to say he would hit the ground running.  Given his unimpressive debut and his slow start on Friday, I don’t know if we can judge Hudson’s progress for one more start. He lacks a “wow” factor — at least until he gets rolling — and most major-league lineups probably would’ve punished him for working from behind in the count and missing his best off-speed pitch. At least for more than one run, which was unearned thanks to an Andy Cannizaro error (on his first chance, to boot).
Still, Hudson definitely put on a show — one that will certainly keep his name in the conversation after another Jose Contreras meltdown, and could possibly get him penciled in to the 2010 rotation before the month is over.
Here’s the rest of the box score.
Minor league roundup:

  • Birmingham 11, Carolina 6
    • Lee Cruz homered and drove in four
    • Christian Marrero and Jim Gallagher walked three times apiece.
    • Dayan Viciedo doubled in five at-bats; Jordan Danks went 0-for-4 with a walk.
    • John Ely improved to 11-2 despite a mediocre start: 5 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K.
  • Winston-Salem 4, Frederick 1
    • Brent Morel hit his 15th homer, his 27 th double and drove in two.
    • Justin Greene went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI.
    • Justin Edwards allowed one run over six innings, but didn’t strike anybody out while walking three.
  • Asheville 8, Kannapolis 4
    • Josh Phegley doubled, walked and scored two runs.
    • Jared Mitchell and Jon Gilmore both went 1-for-4.
    • Stephen Sauer met the minimum for a quality start.
  • Elizabethton 4, Bristol 3
    • Robert Vaughn homered twice and drove in all three runs.
    • Trayce Thompson went 1-for-4.
  • Great Falls 13, Kannapolis 4
    • Jordan Cheatham fell a homer short of the cycle and drove in six.
    • Johny Celis doubled twice, hit a solo homer and scored three runs.
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Just want to thank you for sharing all your efforts with us. The videos and commentaries have helped me get an understanding of our main guys’ potential.
Again, I appreciate it.