A few days ago, the Rays made a minor move, acquiring outfielder Kyle Hudson from the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The most interesting thing about Hudson is that he scored the winning run for the Orioles as they defeated the Red Sox in Game 162 in 2011 (thanks to Tommy Rancel of ESPN Florida for astutely noting that). Other than that, Hudson isn’t too special. But based on his skill set, he’s exactly the type of player the Rays love to have in their system.
Hudson, 5’11” and 175 pounds, was a 4th round pick by the Orioles in 2008 out of the University of Illinois. Immediately two things stood out about Hudson: his speed and his defense. In his first full pro season in 2009, in which he spent 117 of his 123 games at Low-A Delmarva, Hudson hit .282 with a .367 OBP, but he his SLG was just .311 as he couldn’t manage a single home run. But he stole 34 bases in 50 tries, laid down 8 sac bunts, grounded into just 2 double plays, and posted 7 outfield assists between left field and center. In 2010, his batting average and OBP deteriorated to .260 and .348, and his SLG to .304, but he stole 40 bases in 55 tries, sac bunted 11 times, grounded into just 2 double plays, and gunned down 4 runners while playing mostly centerfield in 136 games at High-A Frederick. Hudson showed himself to be a speedy outfielder with who could also swing the bat a little bit, draw some walks, and play some defense, but he legitimately had no power.
Kyle Hudson isn’t a special player. But he showcased all the tools he does have in 2011 as he worked his way up from High-A to Triple-A. In 119 overall games, Hudson posted a .296/.375/.336 line with 41 stolen bases in 57 tries, 8 sac bunts, just 4 double plays grounded into, and 10 outfield assists against just one error. That was enough for Hudson to earn his first trip to the big leagues in September at age 24. In 14 games, Hudson went 4 for 28 (.143), good for an OPS+ (OPS compared to the league average adjusted to ballpark, 100 is average) of -21, not exactly what you would like, but he was there when it mattered, scoring the winning run for the Orioles that eventually led to the Rays making the playoffs.
After Sam Fuld went down, the Rays needed a 4th outfielder type who could swing the bat a little bit, bunt, steal some bases, and play good defense. Kyle Hudson could be that type of player. While he doesn’t swing the bat as well as Fuld does and he isn’t quite superlative defensively, Hudson can do a bunch of things well and could be a valuable bench piece for the Rays. He’s a scrappy player who can bunt and steal bases, and that’s all the Rays will need him to do.