Shorebird of the Week – May 30, 2013

Once in awhile you’ll find a steal in the later rounds of the amateur draft, a player most scouts overlooked or didn’t think would be good enough to fit. Whatever the case, the Orioles seem to be getting more than they expected out of Maryland product Josh Hader.

Hader, who wasn’t drafted last year until the 19th round, impressed experts enough with his performance last season to be considered one of the Orioles’ top 15 prospects just a year removed from Old Mill High School in Anne Arundel County. Yes, he’s only 19 years old – does that seem familiar to Oriole fans, a 19 year old phenom pitching well for Delmarva?

After being drafted last year, the Orioles sent him down to their Gulf Coast League affiliate in Florida, where he dominated enough (2-0, 2.66 with just 12 hits allowed and 35 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings) to earn a late-season promotion to Aberdeen. With the IronBirds he was even better, posting 13 strikeouts and just two hits allowed in 5 relief appearances covering 8 1/3 innings. So the obvious question would be how he handled the long season and starting rotation for a more advanced league here with the Shorebirds.

So far, so good. In eight starts Josh has pitched 42 1/3 innings, allowing just 29 hits and posting a 1-2 record with a 2.13 ERA. That’s not to say there haven’t been challenges – while Hader is averaging about a strikeout per inning (42 to date) he’s walking far more batters than he did at the lower levels – 21 thus far. But batters are only hitting .193 against him, and that will play well whatever the level.

His next start could be a test, as the rotation would set him up against a Greensboro team which has given him fits so far in two starts (13 hits and eight runs – five earned – in 10 2/3 innings.) If Josh can make the adjustments required from a good professional pitcher, it may show that his lofty accolades are well-deserved. Hader is slotting himself for success at higher levels, which isn’t bad for a kid from Anne Arundel County.