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March 5, 2014

Top Tools

Best Slider/Changeup/Command

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 | Best Fastball/Curveball

Slider

Top Slider in the Minor Leagues: Jonathan Gray (Colorado Rockies)
Despite having just 37 1/3 innings of professional experience, Gray made an impression on talent evaluators with a plus-plus slider that elicits ugly swings. Gray’s slider features extremely tight spin, approaching the plate with the appearance of a fastball before sharply darting away from right-handed hitters. At its best, the pitch has two-plane movement that misses bats consistently and can be relied upon in any situation. Gray shows a willingness to throw the pitch at any point in his sequence, making it all the more devastating.

Others Considered: Kohl Stewart (Minnesota Twins), Marcus Stroman (Toronto Blue Jays)
Plenty of sliders drew mention in this discussion, but Stewart and Stroman stood above the rest. Stroman’s slider shows as a plus-plus offering thrown in the mid-80s with lethal bite. Stewart has some projection remaining in his slider, but he routinely fires better-than-plus present sliders, featuring his own mid-80s velocity and slightly less sharp break than Stroman. Stewart could still refine the pitch further and has a chance to top this list in the future.

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Related Content:  Scouting,  Command,  Slider,  Changeup,  Tools

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<< Previous Article
The Lineup Card: 11 of... (03/05)
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