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
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
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
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.