For now, the Orioles seem content to let Hader develop and thrive at Delmarva

He is a 19-year-old left-hander who at this time last year was a brand new Orioles draft pick and a recent high school graduate.

Now Josh Hader is on his way potentially toward top 10 prospect status. Whether he'll make those top 10 lists at the end of this year or not, the results have been pretty stunning for this young man from Millersville, Md.

In 11 starts this season for Single-A Delmarva, Hader is 3-2 with a 1.94 ERA and opponents are batting .186 batting against him. In 60 1/3 innings, he has allowed just 39 hits with 30 walks and 56 strikeouts.

In his last two starts, he has pitched 13 innings, allowing just five hits and one earned run. He is expected to start for the Shorebirds tonight at Perdue Stadium against Lakewood.

Even though he is just 19, and was selected in round 19 of the First-Year Player Draft last June out of Old Mill High School near Baltimore, you have to wonder if the Orioles are considering promoting him to Single-A Frederick.

For now, the organization seems fine with Hader, who is in his first full season, continuing to develop and put up good numbers for the Shorebirds.

"Right now, Josh Hader is in a perfect spot," Orioles director of player development Brian Graham said. "He's pitching well and making progress. There are so many parts of his development process that are continuing to improve. Right now he's in a very good spot."

Last Tuesday, Hader pitched a scoreless second inning in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game. Hader didn't allow a hit and struck out two batters.

Coming off pitching in high school, will the Orioles have to limit Hader's innings later this summer?

"It's not a limit of innings but our projection for the season," Graham said. "We have a projection for a number of innings, pitches and appearances for every single pitcher in the organization and it's not a guideline that we make public, but something internally we follow and monitor. He will finish exactly where we projected."

Left-hander batters in the Sally League are batting just .098 against Hader with 18 strikeouts in 61 at-bats. Graham said there is a lot to like about how Hader is pitching right now.

"I think the consistency, the command of his fastball and the development of his changeup (have been keys for him). He's just been very consistent and has great composure. The changeup has made good strides and his breaking ball is getting better," Graham said.

"He has been anywhere from 86 to 94 mph. You know the average of the velocity and consistency is the most important thing. For us it's the fact he was consistently 90 to 92 with command, changed speeds and throws strikes. That is the kind of stuff that is impressive. Command and life are more important that velocity."

Counting some time last summer in the Gulf Coast League and with short-season Single-A Aberdeen, Hader has now pitched 89 pro innings with 39 walks and 104 strikeouts. I guess if you really want to nitpick, you could about the walk total.

But the O's don't have any concerns about that.

"No, at this point he is making progress in every area he needs to," Graham said. "Walks sometime are relative to the league you are in and your age and experience."

Hader is having a breakout season and his next chance to impress comes tonight for the Delmarva Shorebirds.


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