Alton's Bryan Hudson has a simple manifesto he's strived to live by through the attention surrounding his meteoric rise as a baseball player.
“Stay humble,” he said. “Don't get cocky. That's what I've been doing and that's how it's going to stay.”
The 6-foot-8 phenomenal southpaw pitcher is the AdVantage News Baseball Player of the Year after turning in a season and a career that won't soon be forgotten by the Greater Alton area. Hudson shared the 2014 AdVantage News Baseball Player of the Year Award with Roxana's Nelson Martz.
After setting a plethora of records on the mound as a Redbird, Hudson was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the third round of the MLB Amateur Draft with the 82nd overall pick on June 9. As of Wednesday he was still in contract negotiations. He had already signed a letter of intent to pitch at Mizzou.
Hudson believes the process leading to him being drafted this season let him evolve as a pitcher and a person.
“Personally, I set goals really high for myself and I didn't meet a few of them, but I feel I've definitely evolved a lot more,” Hudson said. “I became a lot more mentally strong than I was in the beginning.”
His inherent knack of focusing when pitching is one of his top talents — that plus his devastating curveball, a fastball averaging 88-91 MPH with huge upside and an undeveloped frame with potential to grow from the left side.
“There was always that little thought in the back of my head like, 'They're all here.' But I never let it get the best of me,” Hudson said with a shrug. “I'm really good at blocking people out so when I go out there it's just me and the catcher.”
He started his career as a 6-1 freshman soaking everything in like a sponge at the varsity level. As he grew his skills developed and so did his attractiveness.
“From my sophomore year I've really just grown into my body,” he said. “I'm starting to fill out a little more. I'm starting to get the hang of things with myself and mentally I know my strengths and weaknesses as a pitcher. I just became a better pitcher from coaching and facing more batters. I can pinpoint things, like the way (hitters) are standing. I just see little things that helps me get them out.”
It led him to shatter the AHS record books on the mound. He finished 10-2 with a 0.46 ERA and 152 strikeouts as a senior. He tied Jason Roberts (10-3, 2011) for the single-season wins mark, while the ERA and strikeouts were tops in school history. All-time he owns the innings pitched mark (198.0), strikeouts (324), wins (25) and ERA (1.32). He's also part of the 30-7 Redbirds in 2015, a single-season wins mark for the program.
Surpassing 300 strikeouts made him proud, but it wasn't his proudest moment on the field as a senior.
“Breaking the 300 strikeout record and re-breaking the record I set last year,” Hudson said. “That and being able to play with the guys I've played with since I could walk. We've really grown as brothers, we're all family and we're going to keep in touch.”
A win as a sophomore stands out as a major highlight, too.
“One of my favorite moments as an Alton Redbird was beating Edwardsville my sophomore year (regional finals),” Hudson said. “Just beating them, it always feels good beating Edwardsville and with me being a sophomore that was really the first time I got any publicity from colleges and other scouts in general.”
Hudson credits Brent Gibbs somewhat for his current path. The former Alton catcher, now at Indiana University, was a touted prospect with the Birds and as Hudson saw that it made him hungry.
“As a freshman it was unreal to me,” he said. “I'd never seen anything like it before and it made me kind of jealous. Not necessarily in a bad way, but more like, 'Awe man, I hope I can get up there like that.' I just set really high goals for myself and worked.”
While Hudson will miss the AHS coaching staff and being a Redbird, it's his teammates he'll reminisce about the most on his road to stardom. Their support through his ascension was key.
“We're all family,” he said. “None of them are jealous. They are all happy for me every game and we support each other 100 percent when we're on the field.”