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Top Prospect Alert - Orlando Hudson

By Jason Blasco

Orlando Hudson, 23, may be from Darlington, South Carolina, but the beginning of his professional career didn't find him on any fast track to the major leagues since the Toronto Blue Jays drafted him in the 47th round.

When you are picked in the 47th round, there is usually a lot of pressure to do well right away because if you don't, teams are typically quick to jump ship on a player because they don't have a lot invested in them.

To add to the stacked odds against Hudson, he started at the lowest level, rookie ball. Rookie baseball can be a brutal place, rewarding the ones that get off to a quick start and punishing those who start off slow. As a shortstop, Hudson wasted little time in rookie ball in Medicine Hat in 1998, quickly getting used to the daily grind of
professional baseball, which increased his odds of staying in professional baseball for a long time.

In only 242 at-bats, Hudson showed that his potential to put up big numbers was definitely there. Hudson also demonstrated that he could work around the base paths with 18 doubles, a triple, eight homeruns, six stolen bases, and a .293 average.

The early offensive outburst in his first season was not as frequent in the higher level at Hagerstown in class A, but that comes with the territory of being at a higher level. Even though it wasn't as good as his first season, Hudson still showed good potential. An example of his potential was most evident when you take a look at the 36 doubles he got in class A. In addition to the doubles, he also had six triples, seven homeruns, and drove in 74 RBIs, in addition to a .267 average.

In the new millennium, Hudson continued to move through the Blue Jays' system with the swiftness that he moves around the base paths by moving up to double A as a member of the Tenneessee Smokies. But his batting average dropped in to .239, which meant that despite his two homeruns and 15 RBIs that his career would take a step backwards, for the first time. The jump from class A baseball to double A baseball may have been too much for Hudson in year the 2000, so the Blue Jays moved him back down to advanced class A Dunedin. There he began to find his offensive rhythm again, and had 16 double, two triples, seven homeruns, and 48 RBIs while increasing his batting average to .285.

The confidence that Hudson regained in single A carried over to double A this season. Last season, he had trouble adjusting to the increased level of play, but this season it appeared that he would be able to take on the challenge. For the first time in Hudson's professional career, he went over the .300 average mark, and increased his doubles total to 21, while knocking in 45 RBIs and decreasing his strikeout total to only 34 strikeouts. The transformation from player with potential, to a baseball player that is bringing his game all together seems to be nearly complete. For Hudson, the transformation may just be starting.
Recently, he received a call informing him that he was moving to one level away from the big leagues, to the Syracuse Skychiefs.Perhaps a fair comparison to Hudson would be Astros' second basemen Craig Biggio, a doubles machine who hits for average and has some power. In Syracuse, the locals probably wouldn't argue as Hudson wasted little time and may have gotten on the fast track to the major leagues at the speed that the stock cars race at in his home town of Darlington.   
Although he only has 19 at-bats of experience, he has made those 19 at-bats count and has caused a flurry of attention to his talent. With a .421 batting average, three doubles, a homerun, 5 RBIs in only 19 at bats and three stolen bases, he could go from the Skychiefs to the Toronto BlueJays during September.


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