The list of great Milwaukee Brewers pitching prospects who panned out in the major leagues in the 2000s starts with Yovani Gallardo and, well, it pretty much ends right there. The Brewers front office did a lot of work this offseason to replenish a barren farm system. In doing so, they may have found that next great pitching prospect, as Josh Hader is off to a hot start in 2016.
So, who is Josh Hader?
Hader was drafted in the 19th round of the 2012 draft by the Baltimore Orioles. Selected 581st overall, the 6-foot-3 lefty has been well traveled ever since. He was first traded to Houston in the deal that brought Bud Norris to the Inner Harbor in 2013, only to be traded by Houston last season at the deadline to Milwaukee in the Carlos Gomez blockbuster. Every stop has seen Hader pitch rather successfully.
The tall and lanky lefty has quite the interesting delivery. It’s deceptive in nature and surely adds to the confusion that batters have when it comes to hitting Hader’s stuff. He lines up with his right foot across his body to the first base side. His big leg kick comes at the batter after a slight twist in the torso, as his arm unloads with a bit of side arm action.
Hader’s go-to pitch is his fastball that sits in the mid-90s, often hitting 98. His slider is a swing-and-miss pitch that he can use against both lefties and righties with success. Both are considered major league ready and are widely viewed as well above-average pitches. His biggest question mark comes in the perfection of a third pitch. His changeup is inconsistent at best, but has shown improvement each year.
Consistency seems to have been Hader’s toughest foe, as sometimes he is in the zone and other times he appears to be all over it. His seven-start stint in Biloxi last season after the trade was the best run of his career. He posted an outstanding 11.69 strikeout-per-nine rate and a career-low 2.56 walk-per-nine, striking out 50 and walking 11 over his 38.2 inning debut. His inconsistency would shine in the desert, as he would strikeout 17 over his 16 Arizona Fall League innings, but walk seven, or four less than he did in 34 more innings of work in Double-A..
It hasn’t always been a matter as simple as walks and strikeouts for Hader, unfortunately. Some nights see a wild ride in each at bat, falling behind hitters and piling up high pitch counts. He has shown moments where he is the type of pitcher who strikes out eight batters in four innings, but has to throw 85 pitches to do so. In 63 career starts, he’s completed seven innings just four times.
That is the most simplistic way to explain who Josh Hader is. What people really want to know is: Is Josh Hader a future big league reliever or a future big league starter?
For video, analysis of his 2016 season and projections, head on over to Today’s Knuckleball for the rest of the article by clicking on the link below!