Not since Gordon Beckham's Girl-Approved Hair has a White Sox rookie shown such promise in his initial trial while failing to fill up the box score. Daniel Hudson may have taken the loss Monday. He might have continued the Curse of #54 with a routine throwing error to first base. But he showed a great deal of potential, room for growth, and most importantly, demonstrated an advanced feel for how to pitch.
Hudson allowed 3 runs in his outing, 2 of them unearned on a passed ball and the aforementioned throwing error. The third run was also in the self-inflicted category, but it's here where I was actually encouraged by his approach. He walked 3 batters sandwiched around a single to plate a run in the second. But he was ahead of each batter in he walked -- heck, he was ahead of everyone all night. He attacked the zone -- and lost them when he got a bit too fine with his 2-strike pitches. That was my main takeaway from this game. Hudson knows how to throw quality strikes, on the corners, in all counts.
He got himself into a bit of trouble in that 2nd with the walks, but it seemed to me that the pitches Hudson threw in the 2-strike counts were pitches that would have most-likely led to outs in the minors. He was trying to make the hitters chase out of the zone after he got ahead in the count, and the Twins weren't biting when they had men on base. He'll have to make a small adjustment when/if all teams take a similar approach, but it seems to me that he's got the command to make that adjustment fairly swiftly.
As for his repertoire, we saw the addition of a curveball tonight. And although he generally grabbed strikes with the pitch (including one backwards K) it was anything but inspiring. He has to throw it from a little bit higher arm slot than his usual slingy, 3/4ths delivery in order to stay on top of it. This makes it very easy to pick up simply by watching his motion. That being said, Hudson's other offerings allow for plenty of projection.
Hudson's slider isn't quite there yet either. I called it more of a back-up slider in his first couple relief outings, the type of pitch that can go a LONG way if he puts it in the wrong spot. When you think about a guy coming from a lower arm slot, you think of him having a sweeping breaking ball... which brings me to Jake Peavy. I was very impressed with Peavy's slider this weekend, and given his similar slingy arm-action, he might be able to get together with Hudson to work on a better motion from that slider. Hawk also brought up a good point about Hudson being able to add a cutter, which Peavy also throws... You see where I'm going here.
Hudson's changeup looks great on TV, but hasn't produced the swing-and-misses you'd expect as a surprising number of hitters have laid off of changes that start at the very bottom of the zone and drop out of the zone. I'd almost be willing to say he needs to get his changeup up a bit.
Think about that, we're talking about a rookie White Sox pitcher who might need to get his changeup up a bit, and whose control is so good he's probably not even used to throwing actual strikes in 2-strike counts. That's the pitching equivalent of waiting for Gordon Beckham to start pulling the ball. When Hudson finds that third pitch, when he figures out where to put that change in a 2-strike count, he's gonna be good.
That's not an if either, it's when.