Hunter Brown, a kid from St. Clair Shores, Michigan and grew up idolizing Justin Verlander as a kid. He attended Lakeview High School, where he played catcher and pitcher. I believe that even a young Hunter Brown would think at some point hard work would pay off. Everything about this young flame-throwing, bat-missing pitcher we have seen to this point says that he has that DOG in him.
Coming out of high school he was only offered one scholarship to play baseball at NCAA II Wayne State University located 1 mile from Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers and where he grew up watching his idol Justin Verlander pitch. He would set his sights on getting to the next level and had a high level of success while in college. He played 2 summer collegiate baseball leagues with the Bethesda Big Train where he appeared in 13 games with a 1.26 ERA. Shortly after during his junior season at Wayne State, he went 9-0 with a 2.21 era over 14 starts and sat down 114 batters in 85 1/3 innings pitched. Then in 2019, he was selected in the 5th round of the MLB draft by his current team the Houston Astros. His first big league Spring Training invite came in 2022 but would return to the then Sugar Land Skeeters (Now the Space Cowboys) to fine-tune his craft.
In this season at AAA, he would earn a Pitcher of the Week award, as well as finish as the AAA PCL leader in ERA (2.55) and struck out 31,5% of the hitters he faced as well as forcing a 54.2% groundball rate. He ended up throwing 106 innings that season where he would earn PCL Pitcher of the Year and the Astros Minor League Pitcher of the Year awards. The story doesn’t end there.
He was selected for the All-Star Game week Futures Game, a game that features the club’s Top prospects alongside his battery mate Yanier Diaz (Currently with the Astros big league club as well). I had the opportunity to speak to him the day after he was selected. I told Hunter congratulations on being selected and asked him how it made him feel to get this kind of a nod. This was his response:
“While I appreciate the honor of being selected, what I really want is to be at Minute Maid Park helping the Astros win another World Series.” (This was well before his call-up to the Major Leagues.)
Brown has always shown determination and a will to succeed. Even in his early season command issues that year dating back to Spring Training, he found ways to adjust and win. Once he was called up Hunter Brown put his head down and went to work. I had the privilege of attending his major league debut. If you have never been to a game at Minute Maid Park, there is a routine that our Latin pitchers do before each start. For instance, when Framber Valdez starts before the game in the bullpen Jose Urquidy, Luis Garcia, and Christian Javier all stand behind Valdez and watch him pitch. While they might have done this for other pitchers, I had not witnessed it until this game.
When Hunter Brown began to warm up, I noticed Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy, Luis Garcia and Christian Javier all standing behind him as he warmed up. It was almost like saying, “You are one of us kid.” Since then, his numbers are simply astounding. In a recent tweet by Apollo Media (@apollohou), they highlighted his numbers and showed how next-level he has been.
Brown, as mentioned in the tweet, has not given up a home run, has mowed down hitters with a wicked 94 MPH slider, coupled with a Four Seam FB that can top out at 98 MPH, all the way down to a knuckle curve that comes at you in the low 80’s.
The point of all this is to say that Hunter Brown wants to be the SP1. He doesn’t settle for anything less than the best. When he does get into tough situations, he finds a way out of them every time. While he may not be perfect, he has been molded into the perfect fit for this team. As my friend @GoStros1 on Twitter calls him Hunter “Freight Train” Brown because when he gets going, he is hard to stop. Astros fans will get to see this kid win a lot of games in an Astros uniform. Keep your eyes on him, he could easily find his way into the Rookie of The Year voting and into the Cy Young conversation as well if all goes according to plan.