Photo by Bill Roseberry
On Nov. 14, Alton’s Bryan Hudson signed a letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Missouri. Pictured (from left) are father, Cory Hudson; mother, Nicole Hudson; Bryan Hudson and Alton baseball head coach Todd Haug.
Bryan Hudson has two intangibles that make him a sought-after commodity in the baseball world — he’s left-handed and good.
Hudson has the prototype body and skill set that make coaches and scouts giddy when they see his 6-foot-7 frame throw a baseball.
On Nov. 14 at a press conference at Alton High School, the highly touted Redbird senior southpaw pitcher unveiled his college choice in front of a plethora of fellow students, family and faculty, choosing the University of Missouri as his college destination.
“My family being able to see me is the thing that matters the most,” Hudson said.
He whittled his choices down from a pool of 22 schools that were courting him. His final two choices were Mizzou and Arkansas, and it was the Tigers that won out.
Alton head baseball coach Todd Haug was pleased to see Hudson make a choice that makes him happy, and seeing him get it out of the way now is an added bonus.
“This was definitely a necessary step in the process for Bryan as he goes through this year,” Haug said. “Obviously we were hoping to have this out of the way so that it wouldn’t interfere with basketball. The young man loves basketball and going into this season the basketball team should have a pretty good team, so there will be no distractions there. Overall this has been a very long process. We’ve talked to tens and tens and tens of schools literally, so once we got to this point it was just the next domino to fall.”
Hudson said he’s happy because it will give him a break from being hounded by college baseball coaches.
“It’s going to help a lot,” Hudson said, smiling. “I’m not going to have to deal with so many phone calls and I know I can just really set my mind to (basketball and baseball).”
Hudson has been a major contributor to the Redbirds over the last two seasons. As a sophomore he was 6-1 with a 1.56 ERA with 56 strikeouts to 20 walks in 45 innings. He pitched in 14 games with seven starts.
As a junior, Hudson was 9-5 with a 1.28 ERA with 114 strikeouts to 43 walks in 76.2 innings pitched. He made 16 appearances and 13 starts.
According to a prep baseball report, Hudson throws three pitches, a fastball between 85-89 mph, a changeup between 79-82 mph and a slider between 72-77 mph. His stock continued to rise over the summer, traveling and playing with the Midwest Mules out of Litchfield.
Hudson’s stock will likely continue on a steady incline as he adds bulk to his lanky frame. As he builds muscle his velocity should continue to climb, too. Building strength is a focus as he prepares for his senior campaign.
“Getting bigger and getting stronger is a big part of it,” Hudson said. “It’s letting my body mature. I’ve been lifting quite a bit, so I’m working at it and trying to get there.”
Getting there could mean the press conference announcing his Mizzou choice could be all for naught. Being taken in the 2015 Amateur Baseball Draft is a distinct possibility. If he’s taken high enough his signing bonus could persuade him to skip the college route.
Back in 2008 Highland standout Jake Odorizzi, now a pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, had signed a letter of intent with Louisville but later was drafted as the 32nd pick by the Milwaukee Brewers. His $1.06 million signing bonus was enough for him to forgo college.
Time will tell how it all plays out for Hudson.
“This was just one step; we still have the whole pro ball avenue to travel down,” Haug said. “We needed to get this out of the way because he was arguably the last big fish in the sea to sign. Congratulations to the University of Missouri, but now the challenge is going to be for them to get him on campus because his stock is really, really high. He could be not only a draft choice, but a very high draft choice.”
But in Hudson’s mind the focus is on Missouri, where he will join forces with Collinsville native right-handed pitcher Tanner Houck, who will be a freshman there in the spring. Mizzou has a nice resume for pitchers with big leaguers Max Scherzer and Aaron Crow as alums, as well as local lefty Nathan Culp of Edwardsville, who pitched in the minors for the San Diego Padres organization.
“I’m going to college as of right now,” Hudson said. “That’s my mindset right now ... things might change, but as of right now I’m going to college.”
Luckily for the Redbirds, they get Hudson for one more go around in basketball and baseball. He will look to be a leader on both squads. The Alton basketball team was 22-6 last season, while baseball went 22-15.