In just two seasons of professional baseball, Dakota Hudson has jumped from first-round draft pick and the Gulf Coast rookie league to high-A and now Class AA in the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
The former Sequatchie County standout has pitched only 25 2/3 innings but possesses a career 3-1 record with a sparkling 1.44 earned run average and 30 strikeouts, While the 6-foot-5, 215-pounder might be on the mound for the Springfield (Mo.) Cardinals on Tuesday night, the folks at home will be enjoying the retirement of his jersey in a ceremony in Dunlap.
"We're basically going to retire his jersey," Indians athletic director Chris Morrison said. "It's not every day that someone gets a first-round draft pick, and certainly not here in the (Sequatchie) Valley. He will not be there — we were clear on this — but we agreed that it was more appropriate to do it during the baseball season and on the baseball field rather than doing it at a football or basketball game."
The ceremony will begin about 4:40 p.m. CDT.
Hudson was one of the Chattanooga area's standouts during his junior and senior seasons and was a Best of Preps selection as well as MVP of the Tennessee-Georgia all-star game. His senior season yielded 124 strikeouts and a 1.09 ERA in 64 innings.
"Ironically, he did not get a lot of recognition statewide, although he was picked after his senior season in the (36th round of the 2015 MLB) draft by the Texas Rangers," recalled his father, Dunlap attorney Sam Hudson.
The low-round pick wasn't because of his lack of talent but rather Hudson's clearly defined plan to follow through on a Mississippi State scholarship.
"He didn't really have many accolades until he got there," Sam said.
A fill-in pitcher for the Bulldogs as a freshman and sophomore, Hudson erupted in the Cape Cod League following his sophomore season, ringing up a 1.69 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 43 innings. In his junior year in Starkville, he had an early 40-inning span that included 56 strikeouts and a 0.92 ERA.
Morrison served as Sequatchie's assistant baseball coach to Aaron Simmons during Simmons' two years in Dunlap and remembers Hudson very well.
"What I remember most was that he was dedicated and very hard-working," Morrison said. "He put the extra time in before and after practice. He was always looking to get better."
Hudson always was noted for his unflappable on-field demeanor, and Morrison noted that he hadn't changed.
"I saw him during basketball season and he's the same: 'Yes, sir; no, sir'; 'please' and 'thank you,'" Morrison said.
Much of Dakota's success could be attributed to Hunter, his elder brother, according to their dad.
"Hunter was always more athletic. Everything always seemed to come easier for Hunter. But Dakota was always a fierce competitor, so stubborn when it came to competing," Sam Hudson said. "He would work his butt off to be as good as his older brother."
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.