Along with two top outfield prospects, the Brewers also were able to get two nice pitching prospects from the Houston Astros for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers.
The more highly-regarded of the two is Josh Hader, whom the Astros originally acquired from the Orioles in the 2013 Bud Norris trade. Hader is a tall, lanky (6'3", 160) left-hander who has garnered some comparisons to White Sox ace Chris Sale due to his build and three-quarter arm slot. Hader has a real interesting delivery with a little bit of a pause as you think he's about to go into his wind-up. That hitch could definitely help throw batters off balance a bit -- take a look:
The 21-year-old has put up some strong stats in the minors, with a career 2.97 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP, and 348 strikeouts over 324.1 innngs. This year, he's appeared 17 times for Double-A Corpus Christi and has a 3.17 ERA and 9.5 K/9. He originally began his career as a reliever before moving to a starting role in 2013. He's been used in both roles the past two years, but you figure the Brewers will give him every opportunity to start.
Hader throws his fastball in the 89-92 MPH range typically, but can get into the mid-90s on occasion. That pitch has also picked up some movement as he has developed, moving away from righties and into lefties. He also tosses a changeup that could be a plus pitch and a slider. Both get strong movement, but not always the good kind of movement. Hader's biggest issue has been controlling his pitches as he has a career 3.9 BB/9 that has kept him from being a more highly-regarded player.
Hader's biggest tool might be his deception. That funky delivery plays a part in that, but he also is good at hiding the ball until the last second. Here's part of what Minor League Ball had to say about him in February (I encourage you to read the full profile):
He starts at the far corner third base side of the rubber and comes far across his body from a low three-quarters slot. The arm slot is inconsistent, intentionally so. He shows a willingness to both drop down even farther to a borderline sidearm for an occasional different look on a two-strike breaking pitch, as well as get more vertical to create plane to the arm side.
Regardless of release point, he uses his length effectively to get wide, and the weight transfer is rhythmic and loose. His wind-up includes a hitch on the initial step-back and rock that seems designed creates momentum for his turn and keeps him in sync. It's an important step that he apparently added before the 2014 season, and the control and command has responded in kind with a nice step forward.
Hader's game works first and foremost off the outstanding deception he creates with a near-full back. The ball takes forever to appear, as he comes all the way around his body and uses his front leg plant to fire his hips late and generate torque for a slingshot-style release.
Crawfish Boxes recently ranked Hader as the 11th-best prospect in the Astros system.
Developing his secondary offerings and learning to control his pitches better could allow Hader to quickly become an even better pitching prospect than he is now. If anything, his talent should allow him to succeed in a major league bullpen, but the goal should be to get him into the rotation in a couple of years.
Milwaukee has said Hader will be placed at Double-A Biloxi to start his Brewers career.