Milwaukee Brewers: Finding The Ceiling For An Impressive Josh Hader

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 10: Josh Hader
PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 10: Josh Hader /

Josh Hader buttons up his jersey every game day, just like hundreds of other players. But for him there is extra reason to smile as the front of it reads “Milwaukee”. It was a rocky and uncertain road to fulfill the elusive dream to take the mound as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers club.

Josh Hader was not always a top prospect for the Milwaukee Brewers. In fact, he was not supposed to be a top prospect anywhere. Since being drafted in the 19th round of the 2012 draft by the Baltimore Orioles, his entire career has been an uphill battle. There was seldom an organization that saw him in their future ball club, so they used him as trade bait.

Through five years in the minor leagues, Hader struggled finding consistency. Not with himself, but with his team. Baltimore shipped him off to Houston in 2013. Trades are a part of the game, so it was up to the 582nd overall pick to adjust. Which he did, going 2-0 with a 3.22 ERA through five starts with his new team that year.

The next season proved to be a struggle for the left hander. Enough for the Astros to move him away from a starting role into the bullpen. He got through just four starts at the Double A level before he was forced to transition. His organization appeared to have given up on him.

He found himself at 21 years old stuck in a Double A bullpen. In 2015 he was able to earn a few more starts. He appeared in 17 total games for the Houston organization, starting 10 of them. His 4.27 ERA was not what the organization was looking for, so he was once again dealt away.

A struggling Milwaukee Brewers team decided it was time to acquire prospects for the future and they took a shot on Hader. This was more than likely going to be the last chance to make a lifelong dream a reality.

He introduced himself to the new organization with a 2.79 ERA though seven starts to close out the 2015 season. In the 38.2 innings he pitched with the new club, he made a statement striking out 50 batters.

Despite the success, Hader found himself at the same level in 2016. Still pitching for Milwaukee’s Double A affiliate. This was his third straight year playing at this tier of the Minor Leagues, and his career looked to be stalling out.

That was until he started 11 games and posted and ERA of 0.95.

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Finally, Hader was able to take a brief sigh of relief. He made it to Triple A. One step away from the dream. This new level did not greet him kindly. He was rocked for a 5.22 ERA. He did still show his talents by striking out 88 batters in only 69 innings.

As history would dictate, after one full year with a team, Hader would be up for a trade. 2017 was that year. By increasing his velocity from the left side to top out at 97 MPH, and improving his slider to become a lethal weapon, Hader rewrote his story.

The 19th round draft pick, the underdog, the forgotten lefty that teams were quick to give up on, had become the top left handed pitching prospect in the entire league. A team change would come during the season, but it would be a change from Triple A Colorado Springs to the Milwaukee Brewers.

He is not done growing either.  He has stellar mechanics and wipeout slider will continue to bring him success. The ceiling for Hader is as high as he is willing to take it.  It is just up to the Milwaukee Brewers management to decide if that is in the rotation or bullpen.

Next: Brent Suter As A Rotation Option

Those who misjudged his abilities missed out on his heart, the driving force behind growth. Hader is now 9.1 innings into his MLB career without giving up a run. The underdog not only fulfilled his dream, he is thriving in it.