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March 4, 2014

Top Tools

Best Fastball/Curveball

by Mark Anderson and BP Prospect Staff


Scouts spend countless hours watching and evaluating players, carefully considering the appropriate grade for each tool or each pitch a player offers. Throughout the course of the season and particularly throughout the course of ranking season, grades are tossed around with near reckless abandon. This player has plus power, and that player has a below-average fastball. This player offers above-average hit projection while that player buries hitters with a potential plus-plus curveball. It's easy to talk about the quality of an individual tool, but what does it all mean in the context of other players?

In the second edition of the annual Top Tools Series, the Baseball Prospectus Prospect Staff debated long and hard over how individual players’ tools stack up against those of their counterparts. Drawing upon our own eyewitness accounts and opinions from scouts across the league, the team debated and compiled the following ratings. The end result is a product that captures the oft-missing context of how individual player tools compare and who has the best of each tool in baseball.

Previous entries: Best Hit/Power | Best Speed/Makeup | Best Infield Defense/Infield Arm | Best Outfield Defense/Outfield Arm | Best Catcher Defense/Catcher Arm

Fastball

Top Fastball in the Minor Leagues: Yordano Ventura (Kansas City Royals)
The raw velocity Ventura possesses can stand with that of any pitcher in baseball, starter or reliever. What separates Ventura is his ability to combine movement with extraordinary velocity while also maintaining that velocity deep into games. Ventura’s arm speed borders on the absurd and helps him generate elite velocity from a small, thin frame. Over the last two years, he has dramatically improved his ability to manipulate the movement on his fastball, cutting and sinking the pitch in a variety of velocity ranges. Ventura is surprisingly strong for his size and continues to generate easy cheese no matter how deep he works into the game, giving him the full suite of characteristics associated with a premium fastball.

Others Considered: Kyle Crick (San Francisco Giants), Mike Foltynewicz (Houston Astros), Lucas Giolito (Washington Nationals), Jonathan Gray (Colorado Rockies), Keury Mella (San Francisco Giants), Alex Meyer (Minnesota Twins), Fracellis Montas (Chicago White Sox)
The Giants have had a knack for developing high-octane arms in recent years, and both Crick and Mella should continue that tradition. Crick’s fastball currently plays in the 94-97 range and touches near triple digits, and scouts frequently project that he could sit at 97-99 mph in short bursts. Mella already has plenty of velocity, sitting in the mid-90s, and at just 20 years old with a projectable frame, he could park in the upper 90s consistently over the next couple of years. The Astros have seen Foltynewicz make the leap from a guy who sat in the low- to mid-90s to a guy capable of working in the upper 90s and touching 100 mph in most of his starts. He velocity still fluctuates from time to time, but his consistency improved throughout the 2013 season and he is poised to make his mark with one of the elite fastballs in baseball. Gray, Giolito, and Meyer can all pump mid-90s gas while regularly touching 97-98 mph throughout their starts, and Giolito has the potential to surpass that range as he continues to get further away from Tommy John surgery.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Draft Ten Pack: The Pr... (03/04)
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Fantasy Article The Top 101 Fantasy Pr... (03/04)

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