Four Mississippians made their big league debut in 2017: ex-Petal High star Anthony Alford, Ole Miss products Bobby Wahl and Stuart Turner and Mississippi State alum Brandon Woodruff. Turner, who stuck with Cincinnati as a Rule 5 draftee, was the first of that group to break through, getting a start at catcher on April 6. Woodruff had the most significant impact, going 2-3 with a 4.81 ERA in eight starts down the stretch for a Milwaukee team that contended for a playoff berth. Who’ll be the first Magnolia State product to debut in 2018? Odds are it’ll be ex-State standout Dakota Hudson, a top 10 St. Louis prospect who reached Triple-A last year in his first full pro season. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound right-hander was 10-5, 3.01 overall between Double-A and Triple-A in 2017. MLB Pipeline forecasts Hudson, 23, to make the majors sometime this year. Heading into spring training, the Cardinals have at least one spot to fill in their rotation, with Ole Miss product Lance Lynn having moved on as a free agent. If the season started today, Braxton Lee apparently would be Miami’s center fielder. The Ole Miss alum from Picayune is currently listed as the starter on the depth chart on mlb.com, though he isn’t listed among the Marlins’ top 30 prospects. Lee, a 2014 draftee by Tampa Bay, won the Double-A Southern League batting title in 2017, hitting .309 between Montgomery and Jacksonville. He was traded in midseason. Lee also played well in the star-studded Arizona Fall League, making the All-Prospect Team. Another intriguing possibility for Next Mississippian Up is Austin Riley, the former DeSoto Central High star who finished his 2017 campaign with the Mississippi Braves, then went on to shine in the AFL. “His power was as prolific as any prospect in the AFL, both in terms of raw strength and his ability to get to it,” Baseball America wrote. “Defensively Riley is in better shape and moves better than he did when he was drafted, and now he’s actually an asset at third base.” Riley is only 20 – he turns 21 in April – but Atlanta has been fast-tracking its prospects of late, so he figures to get a long look in spring camp. It’s notable here that the Braves released Adonis Garcia earlier this week. Riley batted .275 with 20 homers and 74 RBIs between high-A and Double-A in 2017. A much longer shot to debut in 2018 is Brent Rooker, the ex-State All-American who had a very solid debut in pro ball last summer. The outfielder/first baseman, 23, belted 18 homers in the low minors and is already rated Minnesota’s No. 7 prospect by Baseball America.
Dakota Hudson is taking the next step toward the big leagues. The Mississippi State product and St. Louis prospect has been promoted from Double-A Springfield to Triple-A Memphis, according to several reports. Hudson, a first-round pick in 2016, was 9-4 with a 2.53 ERA at Springfield and started the Texas League All-Star Game in late June. “This kid is a winner, a Cardinals-type player,” his Springfield manager, Johnny Rodriguez, told ozarksportszone.com. Baseball America and MLB Pipeline rank the 6-foot-5 right-hander as the No. 9 prospect in the Cardinals’ system. St. Louis brass are “excited about the potential four-pitch mix Hudson has at his disposal,” the MLB Pipeline scouting report says. The hard-throwing Hudson has enhanced his curveball this season. … The Redbirds are at home tonight against Salt Lake, completing a suspended game and then playing the regularly scheduled game at AutoZone Park.
Dakota Hudson, a dominant starter at Mississippi State, has handled the move to pro ball with aplomb. Working in Double-A in his first full season in the St. Louis system, Hudson is 2-2 with a 3.35 ERA for Springfield. The 6-foot-5 right-hander is scheduled to start tonight, after a nine-day layoff, at Corpus Christi in a Texas League game. The 34th overall pick last June is already a top 10 prospect in the Cardinals’ organization. “He challenges hitters, and he relies on and trusts the stuff he has,” farm director Gary LaRocque told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In 40 1/3 innings over seven starts, Hudson has 36 strikeouts and 12 walks. The Cardinals eased Hudson into pro ball last summer, pitching him in relief. In 13 1/3 innings at two levels, he registered an 0.68 ERA, two wins and three saves. He got a look in big league spring camp this year and made an impression, especially with his signature slider, according to a recent Baseball America story. “As good as advertised,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said.