Dakota Hudson, a starting pitcher from Mississippi State is the top right-handed college pitcher int he draft. Considering that A.J. Puk will probably be gone by the time the Rockies select their first player, Hudson will most likely be the best college pitcher on the board for the Rockies. Hudson has followed up a break-through summer campaign with a strong spring that has a lot of scouts pegging him as a future front-of-the-rotation starter.
Dakota Hudson's Strengths
Compared to Puk, Hudson is the more prototypical top college pitcher. Hudson has two plus pitches already in his fastball and slider and two more effective pitches in his curveball and changeup. That four-pitch mix combined with solid control probably means that Hudson will be a quick riser in the minors and may be the first starting pitcher from this draft to debut at the major league level.
Hudson's 6'5 frame will probably need to fill in a bit more, but overall his physical traits are ideal for a future big-league starter. Hudson uses his frame well to get a good downward plane on his pitches, and his mid-90s fastball has a nice sink that will be able to induce ground balls.
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Complete first round mock draft including compensation and competitive balance picks
Going 45 picks and three Rockies selections deep this time.
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Dakota Hudson's Weaknesses
On the surface, there are very few weaknesses with Hudson, which is what you usually want in a top college pitcher. The biggest drawback at this point is his lack of track record. Prior to exploding onto the scene last summer, Hudson was a fill-in starter and reliever for the Bulldogs and totaled 34 innings over his freshman and sophomore seasons. Over those two season he racked up 36 strikeouts but also 19 walks. So far this season, he has kept the strikeout totals high, but has reduced the number of walks.
Why the Rockies will draft Dakota Hudson
If the Rockies want to draft a college pitcher in this draft Hudson will probably be the best option available for them and that may be true even if Puk is still available. Hudson has a high floor, but you won't be sacrificing much ceiling if you select him. If the Rockies view him similarly to Jon Gray, who also exploded unto the draft scene his junior year (though Gray did have a better college track record), it would be hard to be disappointed in this pick.
Hudson looks like the type of pitcher that the Rockies have been stockpiling since Jeff Bridich took over, and his last three outing have reestablished his standing among the top prospects allowing only one earned run across 26⅓ innings against three SEC opponents.
Why the Rockies won't draft Dakota Hudson
While the Rockies have had success with Jon Gray, any time the Rockies are bypassing high ceiling prospects for a college arm, it's hard not to think about Greg Reynolds. While Hudson is a better prospect than Reynolds was coming into the draft, the Rockies need to be drafting the best player available and at fourth overall that player isn't Hudson.
If the Rockies were drafting later in this draft, Hudson would be a solid pickup. That's not the case though, and baseball rules prevent teams from trading down at this point. There is a chance that the Rockies will pick Hudson and one of MLB Pipeline's early mock drafts had the Rockies doing exactly that; however, at this point I think the likelihood of the Rockies drafting Hudson is low.
Review our other mock draft profiles (from least to most likely) and check back often as we release more:
May 25 - A.J. Puk , LHP, Florida