Prospects in Hader haul give Crew promising tools

August 2nd, 2022

PITTSBURGH -- The Brewers were thinking about today and tomorrow in making the stunning trade that sent four-time All-Star reliever Josh Hader to the Padres on Monday.

In addition to the two Major League pitchers coming to Milwaukee in the deal (Taylor Rogers and Dinelson Lamet), the Brewers picked up left-handed pitching prospect Robert Gasser and outfielder Esteury Ruiz, who each ranked in MLB Pipeline’s list of San Diego’s Top 30 prospects and were slotted in at Nos. 8 and 9, respectively, on Milwaukee's top prospects list.

Both will begin their Brewers tenures in the Minors -- Gasser at Double-A Biloxi and Ruiz at Triple-A Nashville. But their promise was a significant driver in president of baseball operations David Stearns’ decision to deal Hader now, while he still has a year and a half of contractual control.

“The first factor is the strength of the proposal that the Padres put in front of us,” Stearns said. “We believe this is a very good package of players that benefits our team both now and for many years to come in a very impactful way. That was the first.

“And then, as Josh has worked through the arbitration system, nearing the end of his time in the arbitration system, these conversations naturally get a little bit more pronounced and a little bit more focused. I think the combination of those two factors led to the timing right now.”

The 23-year-old Gasser was drafted by the Padres 71st overall out of Houston in 2021. The 6-foot-1 lefty had 115 strikeouts in 90 1/3 innings with a 4.18 ERA at High-A Fort Wayne this season.

Gasser has good command and an above-average trio of pitches, with a fastball that sits in the low to mid 90s, a low-80s slider that could become a plus pitch and a changeup that he's started to use more since starting his professional career.

Ruiz made his big league debut on July 12 and was batting .222 (6-for-27) with a double, triple and stolen base in 14 games for the Padres. In 77 games at Double-A and Triple-A, he was batting .333 this season with 13 home runs and 60 stolen bases.

The 23-year-old has great speed -- not only did Ruiz have 60 steals in the Minors this season, he has 218 stolen bases in 484 career Minor League games over six seasons, including more than 30 steals in each of the last four years. Ruiz also has promising bat speed and some raw power to go with that speed.

“There is a chance we could see Ruiz in the Majors at some point this season,” Stearns said. “He will begin his time with us in Triple-A, and we’ll go from there. This is now a player who’s had some Major League experience, a very talented athlete and gifted outfielder.

“In terms of Gasser, this is, in our opinion, quietly one of the better pitching prospects in baseball right now. He was one of the targets of ours out of Houston in the Draft. The Padres did a great job selecting him, have done a great job with his development the first year or so of his professional career, and we’re really excited to get him into our organization.”