Josh Hader felt no pressure to put together a special performance in his first start with his new organization, but he did it anyway.
"I didn't feel like I had anything to prove," Hader said. "I just wanted to go out there and throw my game."
His game amounted to six shutout innings of one-hit ball and a win in Class A Quad Cities' 6-2 victory over Cedar Rapids on Monday.
Hader, now ranked as the Astros' No. 13 prospect, was traded from the Baltimore Orioles along with L.J. Hoes for Bud Norris in a deadline day deal. He'd previously been 3-6 with a 2.65 ERA for Class A Delmarva in the South Atlantic League.
"Obviously, it's kind of crazy getting traded your first year," said Hader, who was picked out of a Maryland high school in the 19th round of last year's Draft. "Getting over that, I've just been meeting new guys, getting used to the new club and learning how they go about their business here. Before the debut, a lot of great guys were very welcoming. They made me feel at home."
The 19-year-old southpaw's comfort was evident from the first at-bat of the game. The two strikeouts he recorded came against the first two Midwest League hitters he faced.
"It felt good to strike them out," Hader said, "but especially [good] to see all of my pitches working, above average, that early in the game."
The lone hit Hader allowed came with two outs in the fourth inning. After Hader had retired the first 11 Kernels hitters in order, Adam Brett Walker II smacked a double to right-center field.
"I got behind on him, I think it was 3-0. I came back with my fastball, and then I threw a slider to get a 3-2 count," Hader said. "Then I went with the fastball -- I thought about throwing a slider, but I went inside with the fastball. It was a little bit up, but it was kind of where I wanted it."
He settled back into his groove, getting out of the inning with a groundout and working perfect frames in the fifth and sixth.
"I was just trying to pound the zone," Hader said. "All of my pitches felt great. I was executing every one of them when I wanted to. It got me a few ground balls and fly balls early in the count."
Jamaine Cotton gave up two runs -- one earned -- over the next three innings to pick up his first save.
Offensively Carlos Correa, the Astros' top prospect, collected his third straight three-hit game. He's 10-for-14 with four RBIs and two runs scored over that stretch.
"He's a great ballplayer, defensively and offensively," Hader said of last year's No. 1 overall pick. "It was pretty fun to see him work."
Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com.