Josh Hader was not considered a major part of the return for Carlos Gomez & Mike Fiers. Depending on who you ask he was somewhere between the Astro’s 8th and 12th best prospect, both Domingo Santana and Brett Phillips were ranked higher. With Phillips being considered the headliner and consensus top 50 prospect. After joining the Brewers AA affiliate Hader was electric with an ERA of 2.79 and 50 strikeouts in 38.2 innings. Those numbers made him a preseason top 100 prospect 61 via MLB.com. After a scorching start to the season in AA where Hader pitched 57 innings with a .95 ERA and 73 strikeouts, Hader moved up to 39 in the midseason MLB.com update. (Which for whatever its worth is only good enough for 4th among Brewers prospects)
He got promoted to AAA on June 8th and despite struggling immensely in the altitude to start his Triple A career (4.79 ERA), he still has managed to strike 81 batters in 62 innings. He has since turned it around in his last 5 starts he has a 2.86 ERA in 28.1 innings with 41 strikeouts. Including an absolutely dominant performance last Sunday going 6 innings and striking out 12 batters with only 1 walk and 2 hits. This is doubly impressive when one truly considers the conditions that are Colorado Springs, the altitude makes pitches sink less and batted balls fly further. Hader has been able to keep his homerun rate low despite the conditions, it is only .4 homeruns per 9 innings. His hit rate and walk rate have both raised in Triple A, but again both are down in the last 5 starts.
He is showing signs of turning it around, his strikeout rate continues to be encouraging. He is 2nd among all Milb pitches in strikeouts this season, and is establishing himself as one of the premier strikeout prospects in the minors. He has a great chance to win Brewers minor league pitcher of the year, even with his rough AAA performance his AA was dominant enough to buy him some leeway. His peripherals remain near elite and his future is bright.
Hader should get a bump in his prospect rankings this fall after the season he had and with graduations plus being on the fringe of MLB usually helps. Speaking of MLB Hader is likely nearing his inning limit, he is at 119 and has pitched 104 and 123 the last two seasons. With two turns of the rotations left in Colorado’s season he will liekly be close to 130 when the Triple-A season ends, putting a September call up into question. That said the Brewers might get him a few bullpen outings if not a full start this September. His true MLB debut will be in 2017 though, I’d bet he starts in Triple-A, with the chance to break into the rotation by late May. (Mainly to avoid being Super 2 eligible) Hader has top of the rotation stuff, and has gotten better every year he has been in pro-ball. The Brewer’s have not had this good of a pitching prospect since Gallardo broke into the majors. With Hader as well as prospects like Ortiz and Bickford in the fold the Brewers future rotation is looking brighter than ever.