Low three-quarters slot; works from the extreme third-base side of the rubber; long limbs; long arm action; pause at the start of the windup; hides the ball incredibly well from start to finish; lot of moving parts in the delivery; struggles to repeat mechanics; loses release point towards end of outings; thin, controls the running game with two different types of pick-off moves; light, lanky body type with room to add weight.
Lancaster JetHawks (High A, Astros)
No. 4 Starter
Four-seam fastball with late arm side run; keeps it down; pounds it inside to same and opposite sided hitters; sits 91-92 (T93) in early innings before losing velocity in the 4th & 5th frames; ball gets on hitters quickly regardless of velocity; added strength and improved conditioning should allow for consistent plus fastball velocity.
Inconsistent offering that flashes above-average potential at 76-77 mph due to tight spin with sudden, late vertical break; slurve at higher velocities; loose spin at lower ranges; fights his arm slot at times. Pitcher can get the pitch over for a quality called strike when working backwards or freeze same sided hitters on the inside corners for a called strike three.
Similarly to the curveball, the changeup flashes above-average potential. When he turns the wrist over, the offering comes in with deception and horizontal action. Improving consistency with arm action; plays well off of the fastball right now, but does get firm; needs to loosen up some for an increased velocity separation.
Hader is an interesting prospect in the sense that some his strengths may also be his weaknesses. He does not possess an overpowering pitch, but there is plenty of deception in his delivery, allowing each of his offerings to play up. Hitters are simply never comfortable from the moment they step in the box. In fact, I saw one hitter swing and miss at a pitch that hit him square on for strike three.
However, all the moving parts within his mechanics make it hard for him to repeat his arm slot for five innings. Finding a consistency and being able to repeat in the long-term will be the key.
I believe there is enough going on here to warrant a No. 4 starter ceiling for the recently turned 20-year-old. Hader is undoubtedly a long-term project, as noted by the 2017 ETA, but the wait could be worth it once he is a complete product. In the meantime, I would like to see him work on adding a slider to his repertoire as a fourth pitch. Perhaps more importantly, he will need to continue to build arm strength while improving his strength and conditioning.