Hudson wraps up Cards' first round at No. 34

Hudson wraps up Cards' first round at No. 34

ST. LOUIS -- While he still hopes to make a quick detour to Omaha for a College World Series appearance, right-hander Dakota Hudson, on the eve of his Super Regional start for Mississippi State University, learned on Thursday the destination of his next career stop.

After using their first two picks on teenage position players, the Cardinals went for a more polished college arm by taking Hudson with the 34th selection to close out the opening round of the MLB Draft.

23rd overall: Delvin Perez
• 33rd overall: Dylan Carlson
70th overall: Connor Jones

Hudson described his landing with the Cardinals as "a little surprising," as he hadn't had much contact with the organization's scouts this spring. But they took notice of him.

Following a standout Cape Cod League showing last summer, Hudson emerged as the Bulldogs' ace in his junior season. Heading into MSU's Super Regional against Arizona this weekend, Hudson is 9-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 16 starts. He led his staff with three complete games, two shutouts, 106 2/3 innings and 109 strikeouts.

"We all believe he has starter potential," scouting director Randy Flores said. "You're tested a lot under the pressure that he's pitched. What we see is that he has a couple different ways to get big league hitters out."

The Cardinals were pleasantly surprised to find Hudson still available when it was their turn to use the pair of compensatory picks gained through the offseason departures of Jason Heyward and John Lackey. Hudson had been ranked 15th on MLB.com's Top 200 prospect list.

"As we were going, we knew there was nothing to expect that wouldn't be positive," Hudson said of dropping a bit below the projections. "Just the feelings and the emotions once it finally did happen kind of hit me all at once, to be honest."

Hudson was a 36th-round pick by the Rangers three years ago, but he opted to head to college instead. He polished his game in the process and grew to be 6-foot-5, an unexpected spurt for a kid whose parents are both 5-foot-8.

Hudson had scoreless-innings streaks of 34 2/3 and 27 during the season and was recently named a semi-finalist for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award. He has a power sinker that sits 93-95 mph and can touch 97 mph. He made particular strides this year in being able to keep that velocity through the entirety of his start. Hudson also features an above-average slider, as well as a curveball and improving changeup to round out his repertoire.

Hudson said he intends to begin his pro career soon after his college season ends. As the No. 34 pick, Hudson has a recommended slot value of $1.878 million.

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 12 p.m. CT.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.