Pittsburgh Pirates outfield prospect Hudson Head has made some improvements to his game that could help him in the long run
When the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Joe Musgrove to the San Diego Padres, they received a litany of players in return. The headliner of the deal at the time wasn't Endy Rodriguez, nor was it David Bednar. Many considered the headliner as outfielder Hudson Head, who has made some noticeable improvements in 2023.
Head's first two seasons with the Pirates were solid but unimpressive. He hit for some power and drew his fair share of walks, having a respectable 104 wRC+ between the two seasons. But his strikeout rate was through the roof. Between 2021 and 2022, Head went down on strike three at a 33.6% rate.
So far this season he's certainly lived up to that title of "super sleeper prospect" I coined for him at the start of the year. The former third-round pick is off to a good start to the 2023 season, batting .260/.333/.480 with a .364 wOBA and 115 wRC+. The major improvement Head has made is cutting his strikeout rate down to 28.8%, which is a 4.8% improvement from last year.
Even this is selling him short. Over the last month, Head is batting .289/.359/.542 with a .339 wOBA and 136 wRC+. His strikeout rate is an even greater 25% rate. Of his 32 strikeouts, eight were from his first three games of the year.
Strikeouts have not been a massive issue for Head over the last month. Had it not been for his most recent game, his strikeout rate would have been just 22.8% (keep in mind that we are looking at a small sample size in general, so one poor/good game can greatly flucuate numbers). Head showed some improvement in the second half of 2022, cutting his strikeout rate down from 35.6% pre-All-Star Break to 30.1% post-All-Star break, but cutting that down to 25% is an insane improvement.
If strikeouts truly become a thing of the past for Hudson Head, he could reassert himself as a top outfield prospect for the Pirates. Raw power, speed, and fielding prowess were never a massive issue for him. It was all going to come down to if he could get his strikeouts under wraps, and based on the early results of 2023, Head may have just figured things out in his age-22 season.