We’re continuing our review of all 316 players to appear at any level for the Houston Astros in 2022.
Hunter Brown is a six-foot-two, 212 lb. right-handed pitcher from Detroit, MI. Born on August 29, 1998, he was a fifth-round choice of the Astros in 2019, out of Wayne State University. Taken 166th off the board, Brown already ranks 10th of the 22 to make the majors after being chosen at that position with 0.9 WAR. Wade Boggs leads the group with a mark of 91.4. He’s also the second alum to make the majors out of Wayne State, following former Astros pitcher Anthony Bass.
Brown has long been considered a top prospect in Houston’s system, and currently remains their number one prospect according to MLB Pipeline:
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. - MLB Pipeline
Brown pitched well at every level of the minors for Houston after his selection. In 2021 between the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks and the Triple-A Sugar Land Skeeters, he struck out 131 in 100 1⁄3 innings, holding down a 1.415 WHIP and going 6-5 with a 4.04 ERA.
Brown hit another level for the newly renamed Sugar Land Space Cowboys in 2022. On May 26, in his ninth appearance of the season, he struck out 10 over seven shutout innings, walking zero and allowing five hits as the Cowboys topped the El Paso Chihuahuas, 7-0. On June 30, he tossed six goose eggs and struck out seven, allowing two hits and walking one in a 15-0 victory over the Albuquerque Isotopes.
Over the course of his 24 appearances for Sugar Land, including 19 starts, Brown went 9-4 with a 2.55 ERA and 134 whiffs in 106 innings — 11.4 per nine innings. He lowered his WHIP down to a solid Astros-worthy mark of 1.085, holding the opposition to a .186/.275/.265 slashline.
Astros fans near and far were clamoring for Brown to join Houston seemingly all season, and they got their wish when the roster expanded from 26 to 28 at the start of September. He made his debut on September 5 and gave up three hits and a walk over six scoreless innings. He struck out five and was credited with the victory in a 1-0 triumph over the Texas Rangers.
After another star (and another victory), Brown joined the bullpen for the balance of the campaign. He made seven appearances in total, striking out 22 in 20 1⁄3 innings while dropping his WHIP from his already impressive 1.085 — to 1.082. Brown was 2-0 with a 0.89 ERA, and drew constant comparisons to rotation-mate Justin Verlander. High praise, right? Thing is.....
Hunter Brown vs. (his idol) Justin Verlander, Mechanics. pic.twitter.com/x8AKa1Q90C— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 6, 2022
Brown remained on Houston’s roster through their 13-game rampage to the World Series Championship. He pitched in three games, going 3 2⁄3 scoreless innings and earning a ring before losing his still-intact rookie status.
The addition of Brown to the mix made it far easier for Houston to part ways with reigning Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Verlander. Well, that plus Cristian Javier, Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers Jr., José Urquidy, and Luis Garcia.
It’s almost embarrassing how good the Astros rotation is. It reminds me of that time that Atlanta had Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Steve Avery.... then number five starter Kent Mercker came in and threw a no-hitter. But there were only five of them, Mercker included. Brown makes it six for Houston.