HUNTER Noah BROWN
Nickname:   N/A Position:   RHP
Home: N/A Team:   ASTROS
Height: 6' 2" Bats:   R
Weight: 212 Throws:   R
DOB: 8/29/1998 Agent: N/A
Uniform #: 58  
Birth City: Detroit, MI
Draft: Astros #5 - 2019 - Out of Wayne State Univ. (MI)
YR LEA TEAM SAL(K) G IP H SO BB GS CG SHO SV W L OBA ERA
2019 NYP TRI-CITY   12 23.2 13 33 18 6 0 0 0 2 2 0.157 4.56
2021 TAW SUGAR LAND   11 51 47 55 21 8 0 0 0 5 1 0.246 3.88
2021 DAC CORPUS CHRISTI   13 49.1 45 76 29 11 0 0 1 1 4 0.245 4.20
2022 PCL SUGAR LAND   23 106 70 134 45 14 0 0 1 9 4   2.55
2022 AL ASTROS   3 3.2 2 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.182 0.00
2023 AL ASTROS $725.00 31 155.2 157 178 55 29 0 0 0 11 13 0.262 5.09
2024 AL ASTROS   14 68.1 69 76 29 13 0 0 0 3 5 0.26 5.00
Personal
  • Brown drew very little scouting or recruiting attention as a Michigan high schooler, with his only college offer coming from Wayne State.

    Hunter's stuff steadily has improved in his three years at the NCAA Division II program, to the point where he should be the first small school player selected in 2019. He should eclipse big leaguer Anthony Bass (fifth round, 2008) by a couple of rounds as the highest pick ever from the Warriors.

    Brown was very much a late bloomer. He didn’t exactly have his pick of Division I schools to play for coming out of Lakeview High School outside Detroit. In fact, the closest he came to a D-I offer was as a walk-on catcher at Eastern Michigan, where he probably would have redshirted as a freshman and been a bullpen catcher with few opportunities to pitch. Instead, he opted to attend Wayne State, a Division II state school less than a mile from Comerica Park.

    The 6-foot-2, 212-pound right-hander would rarely touch 90 mph in high school and was mostly used as a reliever in his first two seasons with the Warriors. But as he grew bigger and stronger, he also made a mechanical adjustment that spiked his velocity. Brown said he shortened his arm swing to get quicker to the plate and soon his mid-90s heater could touch 99 mph while sitting mostly in the 94-96 mph range.

    The mechanical tweak came during a summer with the Bethesda Big Train in the Cal Ripken Professional Baseball League. Brown posted a 1.27 ERA over 21 1/3 innings in a league that featured many players from Power 5 conferences. This breakout made professional baseball a much more realistic possibility.

    Brown elevated himself even higher in his junior season at Wayne State. He went 9-0 with a 2.21 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 85 1/3 innings and came into the 2019 Draft as a legitimate Day 2 talent.

  • June 2019: The Astros chose Hunter in the 5th round, out of Wayne State in Michigan. And he signed for $325,000, via scout Scott Oberhelman.

  • In 2020, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Brown as the 9th-best prospect in the Astros' organization. He was at #8 a year later -- early in 2021. He moved up to #3 in 2022. And in the spring of 2023, he was the Astros' #1 prospect.

  • October 2020: Hunter was a standout at the Astros instructional league.

  • April 2021 -- Q&A with FanGraphs David Laurila

    Laurila: You played at Wayne State. How did that come to be?

    Hunter Brown: “I had the opportunity to do a little bit of catching, and hopefully pitch, at Eastern Michigan as well. But I was told by coach Ryan Kelley, over at Wayne State, that I’d be able to come in and play as a freshman. I knew I wasn’t going to get that opportunity at Eastern Michigan — I’d probably be catching bullpens and redshirting my freshman year — and I kind of wanted to go somewhere and play right away. I also probably would have gone to Wayne State for academics if I wasn’t going to end up playing college baseball, so it all worked out. I really liked downtown Detroit, so it was a great fit for me.”

    Laurila: When did you start realizing you had a legitimate shot to play pro ball?

    Brown: “Well, I wanted to play pro ball from as young as I can remember, but probably my sophomore-year summer when I was with the Bethesda Big Train in the Cal Ripken Summer League. That’s when I started really believing, because I played with some guys from the SEC, and power-five schools, and had a pretty good summer. That’s where I thought I made that jump and would be able to play pro ball someday.”

    Laurila: What clicked for you?

    Brown: “Some of it was my body — I got a little stronger — but it was also being around more of those D-I guys. It was probably the best mashup of talent up to that point in my career — the most talented guys — so I was learning a lot from guys on the team. We had a good coaching staff there, as well. Sal Colangelo, and coach [Bill] Sizemore was the pitching coach… those guys have been around the game for a long time.”

    Laurila: What was your draft experience like? You went in the fifth round, but probably should have gone earlier than that.

    Brown: “I don’t know that I was really expecting to go at any time in particular. I’d heard some possibilities: early Day Two, or just Day Two at all. I was excited about that.”

    Laurila: Did you have anything fall through prior to being taken by the Astros?

    Brown: “I found out later that I did. But on the day of, I wasn’t thinking, ‘What’s going on?’ I didn’t feel I was sliding, or anything like that.”

    Laurila: What did you come to find out?

    Brown: “I think I had a deal with the Reds not go through. Then I heard something about… I don’t know if it was the Orioles or the Phillies, but somebody in the fourth round. The only thing I really heard on draft day from my agent at the time was that I was going to sign with the Giants in the sixth round, so I didn’t even expect to get picked by the Astros. I was sitting in my living room, with my dad and a couple other family members, and I ended up on the TV as the Astros pick. I wasn’t even aware of that.”

    Laurila: Your agent was handling everything, taking calls from teams and telling them what you’d sign for…

    Brown: “That’s correct. But once I got drafted by the Astros and knew I was signing, it didn’t really matter. I didn’t look into it too much, I just heard a couple things from scouts, or other agents… just stuff through the grapevine. It was pretty much out of my control at that point, I just knew I was signing with the Astros and that I was looking forward to the opportunity.”

    Laurila: As a young pitcher, there aren’t many organizations better to sign with than the Astros.

    Brown: “Yeah, I was really happy to be picked by Astros, knowing how good they are with pitchers. I wouldn’t say that I was hoping to get picked by any team, but I did know about how the Astros are with pitchers… particularly high-velo, right-handed pitchers.”

    Laurila: Where was your velocity compared to what it is now?

    Brown: “It’s pretty much the same. I was throwing a two-seam in college, so I know that a couple of reports would be like, ‘He was 92-96 [mph], topping out at 98.’ It was the two-seams that were 92-93. Now I would say I’m pretty much 94-96, and still touching 98 or 99 here and there. That’s with a four-seamer.”

    Laurila: What have you learned about your four-seamer since signing?

    Brown: “What I learned is that I didn’t have a good one in college. I was throwing it without great spin efficiency. At Wayne State, we didn’t have all the access to Trackman, and stuff like that. We actually got a Rapsodo right before the season started, but we were more so using it as a radar gun, although we would see location as well. So I didn’t really get into that. Once I got here, I was throwing a very-inefficiently-spun fastball, so we cleaned that up. I’ve got a lot better four-seamer since joining the org.”

    Laurila: Do you know what your spin efficiency is?

    Brown: “I’m right around 100% spin efficiency. I couldn’t tell you the spin rate, though. I don’t really look at spin rates that much, to be honest with you. It’s more about the shape, and I do get pretty good hop.”

    Laurila: The pitch I mostly want to talk to you about is your plus curveball. What is the story behind it?

    Brown: “I had a curveball coming out of high school. It was a traditional grip back then, and it wasn’t a good pitch at all. When I got to college, they switched that over to a slider, because it was a little bit firmer. Then, once I got with the Astros, they asked me if I’d thrown a curveball in the past. I said, ‘Yeah,’ and they said, ‘Show us.’ So I threw one, and they asked if I could throw another. I did, and they were like, ‘All right, that’s probably your best pitch, Hunter, and we didn’t even know you had that.’ It’s a low 80s curveball. I’ve got big depth to it. There’s not much sweep — it’s a pretty traditional 12-6 — and my extension is above average, which helps me get it out a little further.”

    Laurila: What is the grip now?

    Brown: “I have a spiked curve grip, so a knuckle curve, a spiked curve, whatever people call it nowadays. I’m in the back of the horseshoe, spiking the index finger, and then it’s just a grip-and-rip kind of thing.”

    Laurila: Is it always the same curveball, or do you vary it in any way?

    Brown: “I try to throw the same one all the time. I mean, you might try to land one that’s a little bit slower, but for the most part, the break and velo is the same.”

    Laurila: Are you still throwing a slider?

    Brown: “I am. I still use it quite a bit. I think I threw one 89 [mph] in camp, although I’m usually 86-87 with it. But while my slider is still a good pitch, I’d say that my curveball has overtaken it as a strikeout pitch for me.”

    Laurila: What can you tell me about your changeup?

    Brown: “I guess you’d call it a split-change, because of the grip. It’s not a traditional circle-change. And while I couldn’t tell you the spin rate on my other pitches, I do know that I have a really low-spinning change; it’s anywhere between 1,100 and 1,300 rpm.

    “I started throwing it probably my junior year of college. I was kind of messing around with grips, because… I was always like a fastball/slider guy, and I knew that getting drafted, having a changeup would be crucial for me. My traditional circle change wasn’t that great — I wasn’t getting much action on it — so I went to a splitter. I wasn’t very consistent with that, so I just kind of took the splitter grip and tightened my fingers up a little bit — my index and middle finger — and then just kind of slapped my ring finger up there on the ball. So it’s kind of a funkily gripped pitch. It’s like a sideways splitter with a third finger on there.”

    Laurila: What is the velocity on it?

    Brown: “I throw it pretty hard. It’s mostly 86-88, but I’ve seen it go up to 90, so I guess it’s more of a power changeup. But really, it’s my fourth pitch. I kind of keep it in my back pocket and use it just enough that the hitters have to respect it. I mostly rely on my two breaking balls and my fastball.”

    Laurila: Have you heard yourself compared to anyone?

    Brown: “I’ve heard that my delivery resembles Justin Verlander’s. I’ve read — and this might have even been on FanGraphs — that I have similar stuff to Walker Buehler’s. I obviously love both of those comparisons — they’re very good pitchers — but I wouldn’t comp myself to either of them. They’re in a class of their own. I’m just trying to be the best best version of me that I can be.”

    Laurila: Verlander was obviously in Detroit before going to Houston. Did you grow up a Tigers fan?

    Brown: “I did, and I grew up a Verlander fan. I got a chance to tell him that on the phone a few weeks ago. I mean, I tried to do my whole windup like Justin Verlander, and I really haven’t shied away from that. He’s still somebody I look at and try to mimic.”

    Laurila: How did you end up on the phone with him?

    Brown: “Dusty Baker gave me his number, and I just called him. He’s obviously isn’t in camp because he’s rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, and one day Dusty called me into his office and gave me his phone number. He said, ‘Hey, you should call him.’ So I did. I told Justin, ‘Hey, you’ve got to forgive me, but you were kind of my idol growing up.’ It was a pretty surreal phone call, and also quite a gesture from Dusty to do that for me. It was awesome.”

    Laurila: Was Verlander expecting you to call?

    Brown: “I don’t know. I didn’t really ask him. But once I introduced myself, he said he was familiar with me. We kind of just chopped it up from there.”

  • MLB debut (Sept. 5, 2022): Brown’s highly anticipated major league debut went about as well as one could hope for. The flame-throwing righthander pitched six scoreless innings with three hits allowed, one walk and five strikeouts in his first big league start to earn the win in the Astros 1-0 win over the Rangers. Brown dominated with a fastball that averaged 96 mph and touched 98 and a low-90s slider that peaked at 95.7 mph—the hardest slider thrown this year by any pitcher aside from Mets ace Jacob deGrom.

  • Sept 13, 2022: Hunter grew up going to games at Comerica Park. The right-hander modeled his pitching motion after Tigers legend and current teammate Justin Verlander. He even went to college roughly a mile away from Detroit’s home stadium. And in his Motor City homecoming, pitching in front of dozens of family, friends and former teammates, the 24-year-old Astros right-hander beat his favorite team to claim his second career win in as many starts.

    Brown threw six innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out six batters to give the Astros a 6-3 win over the Tigers in the second game of a three-game series.

    The Astros’ No. 1-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline (No. 71 overall), Brown grew up in the Detroit suburb of St. Clair Shores, where he pitched for Lakeview High School. He stayed in his hometown after graduating, pitching for Wayne State University. Brown said after the game that it was his first time at Comerica since before he was drafted in 2019. He recalls sitting in the right-field bleachers with his sister, who had season tickets at the time.

    “The last two weeks have been, just in terms of life, even outside of baseball, it’s been a roller coaster,” Brown said. “I’m trying to manage it and throw the best I can. Everything has been a good change, so I’m just trying to acclimate to that.”

    Brown, of course, had a huge contingent in attendance for his hometown return. Family and friends took up several rows of Comerica Park and roared after every out he recorded. A rowdy group of former Wayne State and Triple-A Sugar Land Space Cowboy teammates even made the trip.

    “When I had one strikeout is when I noticed it, but definitely warming up in the bullpen I heard my name a lot, which was cool,” Brown said postgame. “After the game, I looked out and saw my Wayne State teammates and a lot of family and friends. It was really fun, really exciting.”

    Brown finished his outing off strong after a shaky start. He allowed six of his seven baserunners and both runs through three innings, but held the Tigers to just one hit while striking out four in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings combined. Houston’s bullpen took over from there, allowing just one run over the final three innings. Brown said the early nerves may have contributed to his slow start.

    “I think I got out of my mechanics a little bit,” Brown said. “That stuff happens over the course of the season and you try to fix it as fast and as quick as you can, and today I was able to do that.” (D Svoboda - MLB.com - Sept. 14, 2022)

  • 2022 Season: Hunter Brown was named the Astros Minor League Player Of The Year by Baseball America.

    Hunter Brown’s breakout came with a delayed reward.

    The 24-year-old righthander pounded Triple-A Pacific Coast League lineups for far longer than he should have this season, but he could not crack a Houston rotation that was, at times, seven deep.

    Brown bided his time in relative silence. His blue-collar work ethic is among his most revered traits. He sports a no-nonsense, head-down mentality derived from his upbringing in Detroit.

    At Triple-A Sugar Land, Brown blossomed into one of baseball’s best pitching prospects, pairing a mid-90s four-seam fastball with two elite breaking pitches. No Triple-A pitcher with at least 100 innings had a lower ERA than Brown’s 2.55 mark. He struck out 134 batters in 106 innings, too.

    After Brown's impressive stint in big league spring training, Astros coaches and executives implored him to improve his command. In 2021, Brown walked 4.5 batters per nine innings, posted a 1.42 WHIP and averaged 17.5 pitches per inning.

    Brown lowered all three rates in the minors this season—3.8 walks per nine, a 1.08 WHIP and 16.7 pitches per innings—while impressing scouts with a better ability to repeat his delivery. Brown said he gained more trust in throwing his breaking balls for strikes early in counts, too.

    Brown’s arsenal is built around his four-seam fastball, one that touched 99.8 mph at the Futures Game in July. He sits around 96 mph and can elevate the pitch for swinging strikes.

    Brown can generate groundball contact with both his curveball and slider. He had a 54% groundball rate at Sugar Land this season, resulting in double plays that helped him escape from some command-induced jams.

    September roster expansion finally opened a spot for Brown in Houston. He was called up on Sept. 2.

    Brown held the Rangers scoreless across six innings in his MLB debut before his journey reached a sweet apex. He made his second MLB start at Detroit's Comerica Park, with a throng of family, friends and former Wayne State University teammates in attendance.

    Brown walked just two batters, got two massive groundball double plays and punched out six with a fastball that peaked near 99 mph—taking some lessons learned from a long minor league season into a big league rotation audition.  (Chandler Rome on September 15, 2022)

  • Hunter's blue-collar work ethic is among his most revered traits. He sports a no-nonsense, head-down mentality derived from his upbringing in Detroit.

  • Dec 26, 2022: The Astros player poised to break out in 2023:  RHP Hunter Brown.

    Houston's rotation is well-positioned to dominate again in 2023. Brown, the organization’s No. 1 prospect when he made his MLB debut last season, could be a big reason why with his triple-digit fastball and devastating slider. After posting a 0.89 ERA over 20 1/3 innings in 2022, the right-hander is poised to help the Astros in their quest to repeat as World Series champions. (Manny Randhawa - MLB.com - Dec 26, 2022) 

  • Brown leads all rookies in innings pitched and is tied with Bibee and France in wins and with France in quality starts. Brown’s four-seam fastball sits at 96 to 97 mph, his hard 91 mph slider has late tilt, and his curveball is knee-buckling at times. He throws an occasional split-finger and sweeper when they’re not expected. He has a solid pitcher’s frame at 6-for-2, 215 pounds. He’s pitched like a middle-of-the-rotation starter but has more upside once his command in the zone improves. (Bowden - Aug 18, 2023 - The Athletic)

  • When 24-year-old Astros starter Hunter Brown was a kid in suburban Detroit, he grew accustomed to seeing the same starting pitcher take the ball every fifth day for his favorite team, the Detroit Tigers. That same starter now shares the rotation with Brown in Houston: Justin Verlander.

    If Brown could emulate one Verlander attribute, it would be his durability throughout his career. For starters, the gold standard is 200 innings pitched in a season. Verlander has done that 12 times. The only other starters who’ve pitched in the 21st century and had that many 200-inning seasons? Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Mark Buerhle.

    “If you throw 200 in the big leagues, especially now, you’re going deep every time out,” Brown said. “The things that does for your bullpen, the stress it takes off everybody else knowing that, hey, we’ve got JV going today and other guys coming behind in the series.” 

    At a time when starters are trusted less and less to navigate the third time through the order, and as their workloads are monitored more closely than ever, the 200-inning starter is a dying breed. In 2013, when Verlander led the league with 238 ⅓ innings, 36 starters eclipsed the 200-inning mark; 21 teams had a 200-inning guy, and six more had a starter at least 190 innings. Last year, only eight 200-inning guys roamed the majors.

    Brown, the Astros rookie, is looking forward to hitting 250 — an early milestone to cross off in a big league career. (Nesbitt - Aug 31, 2023 - The Athletic)


  • Brown spent the offseason working on cleaning up his delivery with a goal of having a more consistent release point that in turn will lead to better control and command. The 25-year-old has the raw stuff to develop into an ace but needs to limit his misses over the middle of the plate if he’s going to break out in 2024. He knows how good his arsenal is and he knows how to use it, which is why he told me he’s nicknamed himself the “Casino.” (Bowden - Mar 19, 2024 - The Athletic)
Pitching
  • Brown's Scouting Grades: Fastball: 70 ... Curveball: 55 ... Slider: 55 ... Changeup: 45 -- Control: 45.

    Brown's 4-seam FASTBALL at 93-100 mph misses bats due to the late riding life it generates. And he can elevate it when needed for swinging strikes. He has a sweeping SLIDER in the mid-80's range, and it is a swing-and-miss pitch, too, He has a power spike-CURVEBALL that moves 12-to-6.

    Hunter is a tall righthander with a muscular build and above-average athleticism. He works from a semi-windup with a longer arm action and delivers pitches from an over-the-top release. Brown in many ways mimics the operation of former Astros teammate Justin Verlander, whom he grew up watching in Detroit. In this way, Brown, like Verlander, is able to fluidly generate power across his pitch mix. Brown's arsenal consists of four pitches with his four-seam fastball and two breaking-ball shapes working as his primary repertoire. His fastball sits 95-97 mph and touches 100. It plays up even further because of efficient backspin and an unusually flat plane from his high arm slot. Brown uses two breaking balls with distinctively different shapes in a low-90s slider/cutter hybrid and a low-to-mid-80s curveball with significant depth.

    Each of Brown's breaking pitches succeeds for different reasons. His ability to command his slider in and out of the zone drives mis-hits and chase swings, while his curveball depth plays perfectly off of his four-seam shape. This allows Brown to dominate with a north-south plan of attack. He'll mix in an upper-80s changeup, but it was rarely used. Brown's command bumped to average in 2022. (Geoff Pontes - Baseball America Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2023)

  • 2023 Season Pitch Usage/Avg. Velo: Fastball 46.6% - 95.8 mph; Slider 25% - 91.4 mph; Curve 23.4% - 83 mph' Change 5% - 88 mph.
  • Hunter generates average spin on his fastball, but his velocity allows the average ride on his fastball to play up, making it difficult for hitters to time. Of starters who have thrown 800 or more fastballs in the minors in 2022, Brown is the only one to average 96 mph or better.

    Brown’s slider is equally unique. He’s the only minor league pitcher to average 90 mph or higher on his slider with a sample of at least 300 pitches. His slider moves like a cutter and drives a higher rate of chase swings. He also throws a low-80s curveball and a firm changeup. (Geoff Pontes - Baseball America - Sept, 2022)

  • Brown showed that he could maintain premium velocity in college and continued to do so over a long pro season in 2021, when he still sat in the mid-90s and hit 99 mph with some riding action on his four-seam fastball in September. But his most devastating weapon is a power curveball that sits in the low 80s and seems to drop off the table coming out of his high three-quarters arm slot. He also has a mid-80s slider with more horizontal action and a fading changeup with similar velocity that's most effective when he leverages it down in the zone. 

    While there's no question about Brown's pure stuff, he's still working on his feel for pitching. He doesn't fully trust his changeup or repeat his delivery consistently, though his control did improve during his two months in Triple-A. The Astros love his work ethic, citing the gains he made while pitching off a homemade mound in his backyard during the 2020 layoff.

     “The stuff is there,” Astros’ Minor League pitching coordinator Eric Niesen told MLB.com in March. “I think everyone's pretty aware of that. And it's just becoming more a complete pitcher, understanding the dynamic of when to use something, how to use it, where to throw it, kind of different developments in that stage. I thought he had a great year [in 2021]. I think it's one of those things where a young guy moves quick.” (Spring 2022)

  • Hunter's lack of consistency prevents Brown from being a bona fide, big-league starting pitching prospect. He is frequently unable to repeat his delivery and has the occasional propensity to lose his release point. His fastball command issues are apparent and must be solved for him to stick as a starter, although he could still be dominant in the bullpen. (Chandler Rome - Baseball America Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2022)

  • Just before the start of the 2022 season, an anonymous MLB scout told BA's Kyle Glaser

    "He’s looked much improved. Much improved. I always had command and feel concerns with him and whether he was going to be a reliever with just two pitches, but he’s commanding 3-4 pitches pretty well. Just last September, he wasn’t doing that. It used to be just his fastball and a big nasty curve and fastball command was questionable. But now it’s all working. He’s added a little slider that’s very functional and his changeup is pretty good too.

    "Something has clicked or seems to be clicking. That’s a great arsenal and he’s commanding it. If he can command it as well as he’s commanded it this spring, it’s a front-of-the-rotation starter. Before I thought he might just be a reliever with a fastball up in the zone, power curveball and that’s it. He’s a better pitcher now."

  • Brown's fastball consistently added velocity throughout his college careeer. His four-seamer can get straight but arrives on a steep downhill plane from his high three-quarters slot, and he also uses a sinking two-seamer. While his No. 2 pitch in college was a sharp slider that shows flashes of becoming a plus offering, it has been passed by a power curveball with depth that plays better off his four-seamer. 

    In order to remain a starter at higher levels, Brown will have to add some polish. He needs to refine a changeup that gets too firm and repeat his delivery more consistently so he can locate his pitches better. If he winds up in the bullpen, his fastball/curveball combination could make him a high-leverage option. (Spring 2021)

  • Brown has a 93-100 mph 4-seam FASTBALL. The pitch stands out more for the downhill plane that results from his high-three-quarters arm slot than its late riding life. He also will throw a two-seam SINKER with some drop in the low 90s. His 82-84 mph CURVEBALL is a plus pitch.

    Hunter also has bite on his 84-86 mph SLIDER with good depth. He has a CHANGEUP that he'll need to achieve greater velocity separation from his fastball.

    Brown has mid-rotation starter stuff, but he is wild and will need to improve his well below-average control.

  • Improving his fastball velocity throughout his college career, Brown peaked in the upper 90's last spring in 2019. And he has shown the ability to maintain his heater for three innings at a time with minor drop deep into games. His four-seamer can get straight but he compensates by using a high three-quarters arm slot to create downhill angle, and he'll also mix in a sinking two-seamer.

    Brown's main secondary pitch in college was a sharp mid-80s slider that shows some signs of becoming a plus offering, and the Astros have had him begin work on a curveball with more depth to play off his four-seamer. Whether he'll remain a long-term starter hinges on his ability to refine a changeup that can get too firm and to do a better job repeating his mechanics in order to provide more strikes. His power repertoire could make him a late-inning factor out of the bullpen. (Spring 2020)

  • He could improve his control if he can do a better job of repeating his mechanics. (June, 2019)

  • 2020 Improvements: Hunter entered pro ball with a mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider, and he has since refined a power curveball to give him a third bat-missing weapon.

  • 2021 Season: Hunter Brown. Brown reached the upper levels of the Minors for the first time in 2021, racking up 131 strikeouts over 100 1/3 innings split between Double- and Triple-A. The 23-year-old, a 2019 fifth-round pick out of Wayne State, Brown still needs to make strides with his command, but his mid- to upper-90s fastball and power curveball offer an enticing one-two punch in his arsenal. (Mayo, Dykstra and Boor - MLB.com - Dec 23, 2021)

  • MLB Debut (Sept 5, 2022):  “Impressive,” catcher Martín Maldonado said. “The first couple of innings, he threw the ball really, really good. He reminded me of [Justin Verlander] back in the day -- a young J.V. -- when J.V. was still doing his thing. But Hunter -- big curveball, power slider, power fastball. He located the fastball better than I thought he was going to. He was impressive, even from the bullpen.”

    In earning the win, Brown relied mostly on his four-seam fastball, which he threw 41 times at an average of 96.1 mph, and his curve, which he threw 23 times. His slider, which he threw 12 times, came in at an average of 93 mph, including a 95.7 mph slider that he threw to Semien in the first inning. The only starting pitcher to throw a slider harder this season is the Mets’ Jacob deGrom. He got eight outs on his four-seamer, seven on his curveball and one each on his slider and changeup. (B McTaggart - MLB.com - Sept 6, 2022)

  • 2022 Season: Brown was named the Triple-A Pitcher of the Year by Baseball America while also being added to the outlet's Triple-A All-Star team.

    Brown posted the lowest ERA (2.55) of Triple-A pitchers with a minimum of 100 innings pitched while sharpening his command this season. Prior to his Major League debut in September, the righty struck out 134 batters over 106 innings pitched with a strikeout per nine of 11.4.

    The Astros featured Brown in seven games in the 2022 season, where he posted a 0.89 ERA in 20.1 innings pitched.

  • Brown alternated brilliance with bouts of poor command, building a high pitch count while wielding some of his sharpest stuff of the season on July 7. 

    In other words, Brown looked like what he has always been: a young starter searching for consistency in his first full major-league season. No rookie pitcher in the sport has thrown more innings than Brown. According to FanGraphs, no rookie starter will enter the All-Star break worth more wins above replacement, either.

    Brown’s first half shouldn’t be considered anything but a rousing success. He is a 24-year-old rookie who brought 20 1/3 innings of major-league experience into the season. 

    “This guy is going to be really good in the future,” catcher Martín Maldonado said after Houston’s 10-1 loss. “I think he’s starting to understand how to get hitters out. It’s always a big test (when) there’s more information out there for the hitters and I feel like he’s been throwing the ball really good for us. He’s been valuable when we needed him.”

    Most around the Astros share Maldonado’s sentiments — Brown’s future is bright. 

    Brown has a 6.19 ERA in his past six starts. He has yielded 41 hits in those 36 1/3 innings. Brown threw 94 total innings across 17 first-half starts. He’s never thrown more than 130 innings in any professional season. “Physically, I feel good,” Brown said after Friday’s start. “I think the work that we do with the strength and conditioning staff, also the pitching coaches and throwing program set you up to handle that type of workload.” (Rome - Jul 8, 2023 - The Athletic)

  • Hunter Brown about his pitch development process: 

    "In Double A, I just used my fastball and curveball. I was throwing this slow, mediocre slider. We found something to capitalize on it and came up with a tweener slider, the gyro slider. For the two months in Double A, I was just trying to throw that thing. In Double A, they were backing up with two inches of arm-side run, but by Triple A, I was getting one to two inches, and now I’m getting more like two to three inches, and it runs off the barrel now.

    "Last year …  I went from throwing the curve 79-81 mph to 83-85, and my cutter went from 88-90 to 91-92. June, July last year, I got a spike in all of my off-speed. I came out of the bullpen, and it kind of just stuck thereafter." (Sarris - Jun 28, 2023 - The Athletic) 

  • April 11, 2024: Astros starter Hunter Brown is the 1st pitcher in MLB history to allow 11 hits while pitching less than 1 full inning. 


  • Brown showed good stuff last season, powered by a plus four-seamer, a decent power slider and an elite knuckle-curve. He pitched well at times, but inconsistent fastball command led to a homer problem. Heading into this season, it seemed like he could be a sleeper based on the hope that he improved his command just a little bit and pitched more to his advanced location numbers (he had a league-average Location+ last season). But this year has been more of the same, with Brown getting decent strikeout numbers but walking the lineup and giving up even more homers.

    In his last start, though, Brown tried something completely different. 

    There goes the fastball! Against righties, Brown threw more sinkers than four-seamers, and against lefties, he threw more cutters than four-seamers, leaving him with about half of his regular four-seam usage. Probably a good idea, since batters slugged .511 on the four-seamer last year and .609 against the pitch this year. Turf it!

    Does he have pitches he can command well enough against lefties to make this work? Maybe. Lefties have hit .263/.333/.579 off the cutter this year, and he’s thrown a lot of middle-middle cutters to them. In his last game, though, Brown stayed away from lefties and played the four-seam, cutter and splitter off of each other on the outer half of the plate. Put together like this, it looks like it could work. Just the idea to stop throwing a four-seamer that had been hit that hard is probably a good thing. And, lastly, his next three games are against the Minnesota Twins, Angels, and Detroit Tigers, so it seems like a decent enough time to test picking up a pitcher with some excellent secondaries, good velocity and a new approach to his mix. (Sarris - May 31, 2024 - The Athletic)