Down on the farm, the Astros have some intriguing arms that can one day call Minute Maid Park home.
The Fresno Grizzlies’ starting rotation, for example, is full of guys who have the potential to succeed at the major league level. Although their team ERA is at an average 4.44, the Grizzlies are carrying pitchers such as Pacific Coast League ERA leader Brady Rodgers and a young future star in Joe Musgrove.
However, another solid pitcher in this rotation has been overlooked and has quietly come up through the ranks of the Astros organization. Right-handed starter Mike Hauschild was drafted by the Astros in the 33rd round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Dayton.
Ever since he got to Fresno in the middle of the 2015 season, Hauschild has been used only as a starter, starting all 27 career games with the Grizzlies. In those 27 games, Hauschild has been very successful. He is 12-11 with a 3.50 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
In 2016, Hauschild has continued his success in Fresno, with a 3.50 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 12 starts. He has recorded decisions in 11 of his 12 starts, with five wins and six losses on the year.
And as the season has gone on for him, he just seems to get better. After a rough April, with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP in his four starts, Hauschild has a sub 3.50 ERA in both May and so far in June.
Hauschild has been an entirely different pitcher in the month of June. In his three starts, he has two wins and has given up only four earned runs on 15 hits and five walks in 17 innings pitched. He has a 2.12 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in those three starts.
As Hauschild has gotten better in 2016, he is getting PCL batters out the same way. According to a scouting report from Astros 411, he uses a sinker/slider combo and a good fastball down to be a productive ground ball pitcher.
Hauschild has used these pitches to his advantage to limit the number of balls he lets leave the yard. Being consistent with his career average, he has given up only 0.52 home runs per nine innings this season.
Hauschild has quietly proved that he can get batters out at the Triple-A level. However, there is one key thing that he needs to work on if he wants to be successful at the major league level.
First, he needs to work on making his pitches less hittable and raising his strikeout totals in the minor leagues. Hauschild’s strikeout totals have increased from last season. In 2016, he averages 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings with 59 in 69.1 innings pitched. The level of offensive talent in the majors is far more than anything in Triple-A. If Hauschild wants to be successful in the majors, he needs to generate less contact on his pitches.
Hauschild has a chance to be a good pitcher in the major leagues. Right now, as with every pitcher at Fresno except maybe Musgrove, he is in a holding pattern in Triple-A with the Astros rotation in good shape. If he continues to pitch effectively for the Grizzlies, he will have to force the Astros to make a move similar to what they might do shortly for Rodgers.
**Statistics provided by Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs, and MILB.com**