Subscribe for 99¢
St. Louis Cardinals draft pick Dekota Hudson visits St. Louis

St. Louis Cardinals newly signed draft pick Dakota Hudson (C) shakes the hand of pitching coach Derek Lilliquist (R) and pitcher Michael Wacha during a visit to Busch Stadium in St. Lous on June 18, 2016. Hudson, 21 is a pitcher from Mississippi State University and was selected in the 34th round. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

Opening day age: 22

Goold's take: When the Cardinals selected Hudson (center in above photo) with the 34th overall pick – the one they had because Jason Heyward signed elsewhere – there was a surprise that Hudson was still around. He was not expected to get past the next pick. Hudson had helium in his game all spring. He kept rising and rising and rising in the estimation of scouts and rankings of prospect watchers. That climb sped up once he turned pro. The Cardinals were impressed enough with his debut that they thrust him up to Class AA for the playoffs. In-house evaluators raved about the stuff Hudson already had, and advertised him as the 2016 draft pick who could hit the majors first, and soon. Hudson already has the best slider in the organization, and he plays that off a biting curve and an above average fastball (94 mph, can go 96-97 mph). A cross-checker said he had the most-advanced mix of pitches of available college pitches.