Last season BCB readers (sic) participated in our annual ranking of the Brewers’ top prospects. Let’s see how those prospects advanced (or not) their standings in the list.
#5 Josh Hader
Josh Hader pitched to one batter in the 2016 Futures Game last July. He struck him out. My view is that we have seen his future with the Brewers, even though he started all 25 games he appeared in for Biloxi and Colorado Springs last season.
The BCB community undervalued Josh in it’s voting last year, but not by much. He probably should have come in at #2, and that isn’t a huge difference. It is easy to see him as a top notch starter in the Brewers rotation in a few years...maybe even this year...but I view him more along the lines of Andrew Miller of the Indians. I know that post season pitching rotations can be quite different than the regular season, but an inning or two every two, three, or four days will bring Hader to about 125 innings. He pitched 125 last year. That kind of a weapon in the fifth, sixth, and/or seventh could be huge in the regular season, too. But enough of my GM-ing and pseudo managing.
Hader was extremely effective at Biloxi in AA last year, with a BAA of .189, a WHIP of 1.00, an FIP of 2.14, an 8.5% walk rate and a 32.7% K rate. Those are very, very impressive numbers, and he was obviously getting both lefties and righties out with great regularity.
Josh didn’t fare as well at AAA, but it certainly wasn’t discouraging. Mostly his walk rate went up, to 12%. His home run rate went from 0.16 per nine to 0.65. His K rate dipped to 29.3%, which is still very good. Hader’s ERA went from 0.95 to 5.22, but his FIP was a respectable 3.81.
How much his performance for the Springs was due to pitching at altitude and how much was due to tougher competition is hard to say. In any case, his totals for the season are still promising (1.26 WHIP, 3.9 walks/9, 11.5 strikeouts/9, 0.4 homers/9.) Of the 6 homers allowed, 5 were in AAA.
Would Josh benefit more from starting next year at Biloxi, pitching in “real” conditions, or facing adversity in AAA at Colorado Springs? Truly a call for GM David Stearns, but you sure don’t want to mess up a guy that looks like a solid major leaguer. Either way, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Josh Hader up with the Brewers at some point in 2017, whether in the rotation or the pen. A very solid spring could even have him breaking camp in the Brewers’ pen, which might be the best option for his development. Service time considerations be damned.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs