Following his younger brother’s emergency appendectomy, Alton High senior left-hander Bryan Hudson spent Tuesday watching the second day of the Major League Baseball Draft on a computer at Alton Memorial Hospital.
He was happy to be with his recuperating brother — and also happy when he was chosen by the Chicago Cubs in the third round with the 82nd overall pick.
“He’s all good now,” Hudson said of younger brother Toby Hudson.
Bryan Hudson said he had spoken with the Cubs earlier in the day, so when his name was called on the MLB Draft broadcast it did not come as a complete surprise.
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“It was awesome, but I kind of knew ahead of time and didn’t tell anybody,” said Hudson, who was with his parents, Cory and Nicole. “I was the only one that knew. It was cool and I was very anxious, but it was just a waiting game.”
Hudson was the highest metro-east baseball draft pick since 2008, when former Highland High School star Jake Odorizzi went to the Milwaukee Brewers with the 32nd overall pick.
Only three left-handed high school pitchers were drafted ahead of Hudson and he was the 15th high school pitcher selected in the draft. While his fastball has been clocked as high as 93 mph and sits consistently 88-91, it was his razor-sharp curveball that got the scouts and personnel directors excited.
“It means a lot,” said Hudson, reflecting back on all the hours he’s spent at practices, camps, clinics and showcases trying to learn the art of pitching to get him to the pinnacle he reached Tuesday. “It just takes a lot of the weight of your shoulders. I worked hard for this.”
After all that hard work, just dealing with a phone that wouldn’t stop ringing and bringing in new texts, tweets and e-mails was a bit of a chore.
“It’s unreal,” said the even more popular Hudson. “It’s ding, ding, ding.”
The Cubs were among the teams scouting Hudson the heaviest, according to Alton coach Todd Haug, and President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein came to see Hudson twice in person.
“All the way through this morning I’ve talked to the Cubs continuously,” Haug said Tuesday afternoon. “I kind of had a good idea it was headed in that direction.”
Hudson also has signed with the University of Missouri and a lot of factors are in place as to whether he will sign with the Cubs or decide to enroll in college.
“I know they were very serious at taking him at No. 82, but they needed an indication that he was going to sign,” said Haug, who said the Cubs went as far as watching Hudson at an Alton High basketball practice last winter and watching YouTube.com video of his basketball games.
“Other than the fact that he’s got the physical ability and has passion and competitiveness and baseball IQ and all of that, quite honestly the first time the Cubs saw him was in basketball season,” Haug said. “They sat in their watching a basketball practice with him dunking basketballs and realized this is not you’re typical one-dimensional unathletic pitcher.
“This guy’s an athlete.”
Hudson helped Alton to a 30-7 record this season, setting school records in numerous pitching categories in the process. He was 10-2 with an 0.50 earned-run average, allowing only five earned runs all season (11 total) in 15 appearances and 13 starts.
Hudson also struck out an incredible 150 batters in 70 1/3 innings and held opponents to a .138 batting average.
Haug said he received more than 100 text messages in the three minutes after the Cubs drafted Hudson. Having spent so much time with Hudson over the last several years, the moment was a bit emotional as well.
“In going through this process with him and his family and getting as involved as I was, I got a little teary-eyed,” Haug admitted. “It was just a rush of emotions. I couldn’t be happier for him and his family and the Redbird family as well.”
Hudson grew up a St. Louis Cardinals fan, but won’t have trouble changing allegiances if he signs with the Cubs.
“Now I’m a Cubs fan,” he said.