Astros to recognize prospects Hader, Phillips
Duo named organization's Minor League Pitcher, Player of Year, respectively
HOUSTON -- The Astros on Wednesday named left-handed pitcher Josh Hader their Minor League Pitcher of the Year and outfielder Brett Phillips their Minor League Player of the Year.
Hader and Phillips will be honored prior to Sunday's Astros game against the Mariners, the final regular-season game of the year at Minute Maid Park. Both players are also scheduled to sign autographs on the main concourse before the ceremony.
The 20-year-old Hader -- Houston's No. 10 prospect, according to MLB.com -- posted a 10-3 record and a 3.28 ERA this season in 27 appearances (19 starts) between Class A Advanced Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi, with 136 strikeouts in 123 1/3 innings. The left-hander allowed just 92 hits on the season.
"It's a big honor, especially because we have such good players in the Minor Leagues," he said.
Hader, who was acquired from the Orioles last July as part of the Bud Norris trade, earned California League Pitcher of the Year honors at Lancaster, where he was 9-2 in 22 appearances (15 starts) with a league-best 2.70 ERA. Hader was named to the California League Postseason All-Star team.
"I didn't pitch any different," he said, on succeeding at hitter-friendly Lancaster. "I focused on pitching down more. I used my fastball as often as I could in Lancaster, so it helped me out a lot. It wasn't really a secret. I did what I had to do, just get outs and win ballgames and give my team a chance to win games."
The 6-foot-3 Hader said he plans to work out this winter in an effort to gain about 10 pounds to get stronger and more durable. He wants to reach about 185 pounds.
"I'm glad with the pace I'm moving at and I have to do what I have to do in the offseason to get bigger and work on my mechanics a little bit," he said. "I'm working on putting on some weight on, and right around Thanksgiving start throwing and stuff like that. Just focus on putting on weight and muscle. That's the big thing I think will help me a lot next year."
Phillips, 20, hit .310 in 130 games between Class A Quad Cities and Lancaster, with 29 doubles, 14 triples, 17 home runs, 68 RBIs and 23 stolen bases. The left-handed hitter posted a .529 slugging percentage and a .905 on-base plus slugging percentage. After starting the season with Quad Cities, Phillips was promoted to Lancaster, where he played a key role in the JetHawks' championship season, hitting .339 and posting a .980 OPS in 27 games, accumulating four home runs and 10 RBIs.
"It's great," Phillips said. "It's just been a blessed year overall, from Spring Training all the way up until the end. I just made it a priority to do my best the whole year and take each day step by step and not try to do too much. I maybe pressed the past couple seasons, and this season has been a blessed year this year and I'm glad we could finish out on top with the championship."
Batting leadoff, Phillips was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBIs in Monday night's 10-2, title-clinching win over Visalia. While at Quad Cities, Phillips was the youngest starter for the Western Division squad in the Midwest League All-Star Game. Phillips was selected by the Astros in the sixth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.