Prep Baseball & Softball

Stock of Alton pitcher Bryan Hudson on the rise; hot bat for Belleville West

While major league baseball scouts and other personnel have been watching 6-foot-8 Alton High senior left-hander Bryan Hudson all season, Hudson and the Redbirds got a visit last week from Theo Epstein, the Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations.

With teams wanting to solidify their reports on Hudson prior to the Major League Draft June 8-10, expect each Hudson start to be greeted with a few more major league visitors. He recently received another honor by being included on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list, which includes both college and high school players.

The 6-foot-8 left-hander with a fastball that has been clocked in the 90-92 mph range checked in at No. 100. That’s not surprising since his pitching prowess continue to draw attention.

Hudson is 8-1 with a 0.43 ERA and has allowed only five runs (three earned) in 11 appearances covering 49 1/3 innings. The University of Missouri recruit allowed four of those five runs in one outing, a 6-1 loss to Edwardsville on April 2, for his lone defeat.

“The thing that I noticed was he had another level when he wanted it,” Belleville West coach Todd Baltz said. “Yes, he was very good, but it seemed when he really needed to bear down to get a strikeout or make the pitch he needed to make, he could do that. Not many guys have that ability.

“Seeing a breaking ball as good as his from the left side is something you really don’t see a lot of.”

Hudson also has struck out 116 in 49 1/3 innings while walking only 20. He’s been just as much of an impact player at the plate, where he’s hitting .471 for the 24-4 Redbirds with 10 doubles, six triples, four home runs and 30 RBIs.

Kossina’s hot bat

One of the area’s hottest hitters in recent weeks has been Belleville West junior Cal Kossina.

The younger brother of former Maroons and McKendree University standout Tony Kossina, Cal Kossina has banged out a .609 average in his last six games (14-for-23) from the leadoff spot with two doubles, two triples and two RBIs.

He leads West in hitting with a .400 batting average that includes six doubles, two triples, five RBIs and a team-leading 25 runs scored and nine stolen bases.

“He’s a contact hitter, but sometimes he gets into one,” Baltz said. “He’s a gap-type guy but he’s not afraid to lay down a bunt, either. He takes tough at-bats and doesn’t give them away to the strikeout very often.”

Kossina has struck out only six times in 94 plate appearances. He normally plays third base, but slides over to short when Maroons’ ace Matt Klosterman is on the mound and has even caught a few times.

“The thing about Cal is he puts in extra time,” Baltz said. “Every time we do extra hitting he sticks around and always wants to hit. He’s always taking good at-bats and is tough with two strikes. His work ethic is second to none as far as that goes.”

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at nsanders@bnd.com or 618-239-2454. Follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders.

News-Democrat High School Baseball Rankings

Rankings for metro-east teams; voting by area coaches and News-Democrat staff. First-place votes are in parentheses, records through Sunday.

Large school rankings (Class 3A-4A)

Rank

Team

W-L

1.

Edwardsville (7)

26-1

2.

Alton

24-4

3.

O’Fallon

22-8

4.

Freeburg

22-2

5.

Belleville East

14-10

Also receiving votes: Waterloo (19-7), Columbia (18-7), Mascoutah (17-12), Highland (17-9), Civic Memorial (16-13), Belleville West (10-15), Collinsville (13-13)

Small school rankings (Class 1A-2A)

Rank

Team

W-L

1.

Althoff (4)

14-8

2.

Nashville (1)

21-6

3.

Mater Dei (1)

16-8

4.

Wesclin (1)

16-10

5.

Carlyle

17-12

Also receiving votes: Gibault (14-14), Central (13-12), Valmeyer (15-16), New Athens (14-12), Dupo (9-12)

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