Josh Hader named Astros Minor League Pitcher of the Year

Sources say the Astros are preparing to announce Josh Hader as the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year for 2014. The 20-year old lefty won 10 of 13 decisions and posted a 3.28 ERA in 123 & 1/3 innings between Lancaster and Corpus Christi.

Hader, acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in the 2013 trade deadline deal involving Bud Norris, has quickly become the top left-handed pitching prospect in the Astros farm system. Spending most of the 2014 season at hitter-friendly Lancaster of the California League, Hader was nothing short of dominant. With the JetHawks, Hader allowed only 76 hits while striking out 112 batters in 103 & 1/3 innings.

Hader was promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi late in the season and made five appearances for the Hooks. Although his walks and ERA sky-rocketed at the higher level (small sample size), his strikeout rate remained consistent. In three seasons in the minors, Hader has posted some extremely impressive numbers. His strikeout rate is 9.9 per 9 innings and his career ERA is 2.92. Josh now has 17 career wins compared to only nine losses.

Walks have been the only issue, as Hader has a career rate of 4.1 BB/9 IP. Some adjustments to his style could be helpful in that area and could prove to make Josh even more effective. Hader generally pitches from the third-base side of the rubber. He also takes a false step at the beginning of his delivery. Moving to the first-base side could help the lefty get a better angle to the plate (especially against left-handed batters) and losing the short first step might even help to add more velocity to his low-90’s fastball. Some refinement of his mechanics since being drafted by the Orioles already boosted Hader’s radar gun readings up from the mid-80’s.

At 6′ 3″ tall and only 160 pounds, Hader has a slender frame that figures to fill out as he gets older. His repertoire also includes a decent changeup as well as a curveball. Hader still looks to be a couple years away from making it to Houston, but if he continues to progress at his current rate we may see him even sooner.

Congratulations to Josh Hader on being named the Houston Astros Minor League Pitcher of the Year.