Off the 40-man roster, Hunter Brown’s debut remains a question for many. The Houston Astros‘ top pitching prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, returned to Triple-A in April, but as his strikeouts numbers — 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings — continue to impress, he is punching his way to a debut.
MLB Pipeline released its updated prospect rankings Monday, moving Brown to No. 100 with recent graduations and demotions. Following Jeremy Peña’s graduation, Brown is the lone member of the Astros’ farm currently in the top 100 — which was a longtime coming for the righty.
Houston Astros’ prospect Hunter Brown breaks into top 100, following a perfect outing a few days prior.
Brown’s most recent outing came Friday against the Oklahoma City Dodgers in relief, following an ill-efficient start from right-hander Brandon Bielak. Brown — in only his third relief appearance of the season — went perfect.
Over four innings, Brown waved five batters, while not allowing a single base runner. The 23-year-old improved his ERA to 2.70 in the process of lowering his opponent batting average to a season-low of .197.
Behind his upper-90s fastball, Brown flashed his curveball and his slider in a smaller sample Friday. His fastball reached 98.7 mph twice, while he threw the heater 60% of the time. For his offspeed, the curve and the slider were swung at 10 times, as batters whiffed 40% of the tries.
The eye catching metric from Friday’s performance was Brown’s 37 CSW% — the percentage of pitches called strikes and swinging strikes — which was the best from any Sugar Land Space Cowboy.
Peña’s graduation restructures the top half of the Astros’ prospect list, moving Brown to first with Korey Lee and Pedro Leon following at second and third. Brown and Lee are projected to make their Major League Baseball debuts this season, and Leon is expected a callup in 2023, according to MLB Pipeline.