Top Ten Curveballs

Although the Mets recently lost a top collection of pitchers who display a full array of pitches, those who remain have developing repertoires. In this analysis, Inside Pitch Magazine looks at the hurlers with the best curveball, ranking the top ten curveballs in the Mets system.

10. Jose Sanchez: Sanchez had a bumpy season in 2007 after moving up from St. Lucie following a success stint in the Florida State League the previous season. Despite posting a 4-9 record and 4.52 ERA, he was one of the most stable pieces to the Binghamton rotation as he made a team leading 27 starts. Though is fastball is usually clocked no higher than the low-90s, he can rely on his dependable curveball which spins in the mid-70s with good movement.

9. Guillaume Leduc: The sixth round pick in last spring's draft saw his repertoire really come to life for perhaps the first time in his career as he transitioned from pitching in the chilly springs of his native Canada to the south Florida climate. The humid air finally allowed his curveball to break with its natural movement, and the results were quite apparent. Leduc has terrific command of his mid-70s curveball which he can spot on both sides of the plate with a keen ability to backdoor to the pitch to right-handers.

8. Michael Olmsted: The tall, burly right-hander likes to attack hitters with his fastball, but will mix in the rest of his repertoire [which goes four deep] without hesitancy. He boasts a good curveball/slider combination, but it is his curveball which he feels more confident throwing behind in the count. It is not only the timing in which he throws the curveball, but it is the speed as he curls his curveball with a good arch that can change a hitter's eye level.

7. Todd Privett: The Brooklyn left-hander is a location junkie who relies on taking down hitters by being able to spot his secondary pitches as he does not throw a hard fastball. He bends a slow, hooking curveball which typically sits 70-73 with very good movement, but has struggled in the past with its location. Unfortunately for Privett, he will have to delay the pitch's progress as he underwent elbow surgery during the early stages of the 2007 season.

6. Phillips Orta: The 21-year-old right-hander is already known for the heat he can throw despite a rather slender frame at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds. However, he backs that up with another weapon, his quick-breaking curveball which tears through the zone with some ferocity. He gets a really tight spin on the ball which causes hitters to have to really catch up to the pitch when they are not expecting it. With another year of refinement, Orta's curveball should land him closer to the top of this list.

5. Julio Polanco: The right-hander pitched the full year in Savannah, his first stay with a long-season squad and even though he struggled through some months, his repertoire continues to blossom—particularly his curveball. He throws his curveball anywhere from 71-74 MPH and when it is on, it can be very difficult for hitters to make contact or nearly untouchable when he truly has a feel for it. However, he still has trouble consistently commanding the pitch which was a source for many of his inflated numbers last season. Until he can get stronger command of the pitch, hitters will sit back on his fastball and dare him to throw the curve.

4. Michael Devaney: Devaney is one of the most well-known veteran pitchers of the organization who pitches with great tenacity. Though he possesses a cut-fastball which is usually no more than the high-80s, he likes to go after hitters with his big, arching curveball that traditionally sits around 70 MPH. Gaining ticks of velocity on his curveball has been a focal point for him in the last couple seasons, but it has not made him too shy to throw the pitch in any count as he can locate it anywhere on the plate.

3. Tobi Stoner: While Stoner already possesses the deepest, most polished repertoire in the system, he prefers to throw his sharp, biting curveball above all. His curve sits anywhere in the mid-70s and serves as his primary out-pitch but he has the ability to spot it in anywhere in the zone and will throw it in any count. His plus-curveball, in addition to the rest of his pitches, is why he could see move up during the 2008 season similar to his promotion last season.

2. Robert Paulk: Like Devaney, Paulk does not provide much juice on his fastball but throws one of the most entertaining breaking balls throughout the system. He flips in a big curveball that sits 75-78 MPH that steeply drops over the plate. He gets good movement on which allows him to the pitch down and away to righties and bury it under the hands of left-handed batters. Additionally, he relies on his curveball as his strikeout pitch. He has seen minimal time in Triple-A over the last two seasons, but as long as he can throw that curveball, he will remain an option for the New Orleans bullpen.

1. Jonathon Niese: Niese already rose to the top of the Mets' pitching prospects following the Johan Santana deal, but he also reigns supreme when it comes to his curveball because of it's enormous overhand break. He throws his curveball anywhere from the high-60s to low-70s as it tumbles through the entire strike zone, freezing right-handers in the process. He actually throws two styles of curveballs—one that he takes some velocity off earlier in the count, but another that gains a few ticks on the radar with quicker snap to it later in at-bats.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n10. Jose Sanchez: Sanchez had a bumpy season in 2007 after moving up from St. Lucie following a success stint in the Florida State League the previous season. Despite posting a 4-9 record and 4.52 ERA, he was one of the most stable pieces to the Binghamton rotation as he made a team leading 27 starts. Though is fastball is usually clocked no higher than the low-90s, he can rely on his dependable curveball which spins in the mid-70s with good movement.
\r\n
\r\n9. Guillaume Leduc: The sixth round pick in last spring's draft saw his repertoire really come to life for perhaps the first time in his career as he transitioned from pitching in the chilly springs of his native Canada to the south Florida climate. The humid air finally allowed his curveball to break with its natural movement, and the results were quite apparent. Leduc has terrific command of his mid-70s curveball which he can spot on both sides of the plate with a keen ability to backdoor to the pitch to right-handers.
\r\n
\r\n8. Michael Olmsted: The tall, burly right-hander likes to attack hitters with his fastball, but will mix in the rest of his repertoire [which goes four deep] without hesitancy. He boasts a good curveball/slider combination, but it is his curveball which he feels more confident throwing behind in the count. It is not only the timing in which he throws the curveball, but it is the speed as he curls his curveball with a good arch that can change a hitter's eye level.
\r\n
\r\n7. Todd Privett: The Brooklyn left-hander is a location junkie who relies on taking down hitters by being able to spot his secondary pitches as he does not throw a hard fastball. He bends a slow, hooking curveball which typically sits 70-73 with very good movement, but has struggled in the past with its location. Unfortunately for Privett, he will have to delay the pitch's progress as he underwent elbow surgery during the early stages of the 2007 season.
\r\n
\r\n6. Phillips Orta: The 21-year-old right-hander is already known for the heat he can throw despite a rather slender frame at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds. However, he backs that up with another weapon, his quick-breaking curveball which tears through the zone with some ferocity. He gets a really tight spin on the ball which causes hitters to have to really catch up to the pitch when they are not expecting it. With another year of refinement, Orta's curveball should land him closer to the top of this list.
\r\n
\r\n5. Julio Polanco: The right-hander pitched the full year in Savannah, his first stay with a long-season squad and even though he struggled through some months, his repertoire continues to blossom—particularly his curveball. He throws his curveball anywhere from 71-74 MPH and when it is on, it can be very difficult for hitters to make contact or nearly untouchable when he truly has a feel for it. However, he still has trouble consistently commanding the pitch which was a source for many of his inflated numbers last season. Until he can get stronger command of the pitch, hitters will sit back on his fastball and dare him to throw the curve.
\r\n
\r\n4. Michael Devaney: Devaney is one of the most well-known veteran pitchers of the organization who pitches with great tenacity. Though he possesses a cut-fastball which is usually no more than the high-80s, he likes to go after hitters with his big, arching curveball that traditionally sits around 70 MPH. Gaining ticks of velocity on his curveball has been a focal point for him in the last couple seasons, but it has not made him too shy to throw the pitch in any count as he can locate it anywhere on the plate.
\r\n
\r\n3. Tobi Stoner: While Stoner already possesses the deepest, most polished repertoire in the system, he prefers to throw his sharp, biting curveball above all. His curve sits anywhere in the mid-70s and serves as his primary out-pitch but he has the ability to spot it in anywhere in the zone and will throw it in any count. His plus-curveball, in addition to the rest of his pitches, is why he could see move up during the 2008 season similar to his promotion last season.
\r\n
\r\n2. Robert Paulk: Like Devaney, Paulk does not provide much juice on his fastball but throws one of the most entertaining breaking balls throughout the system. He flips in a big curveball that sits 75-78 MPH that steeply drops over the plate. He gets good movement on which allows him to the pitch down and away to righties and bury it under the hands of left-handed batters. Additionally, he relies on his curveball as his strikeout pitch. He has seen minimal time in Triple-A over the last two seasons, but as long as he can throw that curveball, he will remain an option for the New Orleans bullpen.
\r\n
\r\n1. Jonathon Niese: Niese already rose to the top of the Mets' pitching prospects following the Johan Santana deal, but he also reigns supreme when it comes to his curveball because of it's enormous overhand break. He throws his curveball anywhere from the high-60s to low-70s as it tumbles through the entire strike zone, freezing right-handers in the process. He actually throws two styles of curveballs—one that he takes some velocity off earlier in the count, but another that gains a few ticks on the radar with quicker snap to it later in at-bats.
\r\n
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