Top Ten Fastballs for Starters

A group of live arms have entered the system over the past two seasons, giving the Mets a solid list of prospects all armed with top notch fastballs. While the farm could stand to add further depth with this tool, these ten all stand a chance to crack the big leagues simply because of their above average fastballs.

10. Jeurys Familia – The 19-year-old right-hander is still learning to throw his secondary pitches, but will continue to move—and possibly at a quick rate—because of his fastball. He was on the gun at 89-91 MPH early in the Gulf Coast League season but his velocity increased and stabilized in the low-90s later in the summer and during the Instructional League season.

He is still working on a delivery and his rather violent arm action has caused some concern about his long-term durability, but he has so far impressed scouts with his live fastball.

9. Elvin Ramirez – Ramirez's velocity is predicated on arm strength and while his 93-94 MPH heat would otherwise move him up this list, he is still attaining command of his hard, sinking fastball. He struggles commanding his fastball at times which led to a rather low strikeout ratio given his velocity and a walk-to-innings ratio on the higher side of average.

The best element to his fastball is his stamina. While young pitchers tend to see their velocity fade in late innings, Ramirez' arm strength allows him to maintain his heat later into games. However, he will need greater control of it as he moves up to remain a starter.

8. Dillon Gee – Gee does not throw as hard as the two before him on the last, sitting 91-92 MPH, but what he makes up in one or two ticks in velocity, he compensates with impeccable control. He boasts confidence in both his two-seam and four-seam fastballs in any count because of his ability to paint the corners. He uses his fastballs to set up his secondary pitches and though he does not ring up high strikeout totals, his ability to keep hitters honest with his fastball makes it such an effective pitch and his game more successful overall.

7. Scott Shaw – The first-year right-hander, like Gee, does not impress with his fastball velocity but rather outstanding control. Sitting 88-90 MPH during the New York-Penn League season, observers wondered if he had the velocity to maintain success at higher levels. Patience was a virtue with Shaw's fastball as he experienced a jump to 91-92 MPH during the Hawaiian Winter League.

Scouts have noted that the fastball Shaw showed off during his rookie campaign is not the same pitch they expect from him in 2009. Despite three very sound secondary pitches, it will be that added velocity that will carry him to success at higher levels. He may not light up the radar gun, but a strong arm that can consistently locate a low-90s fastballs is valuable.

6. Eric Niesen – Niesen posted rather pedestrian numbers during his time in the Florida State League, but it is difficult to gloss over a left-hander who can hit 93 MPH on the gun. He had trouble throwing the ball by hitters last season but his trouble spawned more out of a lack of command that he had with Brooklyn in 2007. He ran into problems when his front side opened up, forcing his fastball to stay up and lose its natural running movement. When he stays closed, Niesen has much better control of the fastball and is able to maintain it low in the zone which increases its effectiveness.

5. Nick Carr – Carr too posted subpar numbers with St. Lucie last summer but that does not diminish the fact that he possesses one of the liveliest arms in the system. He ranges from 92-95 MPH and his fastball becomes a plus pitch when his location is on point. All too often last season it appeared as if he had no idea where the ball was going when it left his hand, mainly because of mechanical issues.

When Carr stays on top of his two-seam fastball, it dives late through the zone and can generate a high number of strikeouts. It is the more powerful of his two fastballs as his four-seam is more of a setup pitch. His four-seamer is a more hittable pitch as he does not generate much natural movement, but he still throws it in the low to mid-90s and is a good change of pace pitch off his breaking pitches which have a lot of movement.

4. Bobby Parnell – Parnell struggled with his command, and specifically his fastball command, at times during the 2008 season, yet his heater is the tool that has him on the precipice of the 25-man roster. He throws a power, sinking two-seam fastball in the low-90s that can generate a high number of groundballs but also gets batters to swing over the top of it. His four-seam fastball has similar velocity but its lack of movement in comparison causes him to fall back on his two-seamer. Nonetheless, low to mid-90s velocity is why he is favorably considered for a spot in the big league bullpen.

3. Jenrry Mejia – At 6-feet and no more than 170-pounds, one would not expect such velocity from Mejia, but he pumps in his mid-90s fastball with very good stamina. He gets good riding and sinking action on the pitch which is the key to his ability to generate such a high rate of ground balls and makes it very difficult for hitters to lift the fastball. There are some concerns as to how his smaller frame holds up over the long haul, but Mejia is built solid and showed little wear over the course of the 2008 short-season. Now the test will be how his fastball maintains during an 125 inning-plus year.

2. Brant Rustich – Rustich has the stuff to pitch in the big leagues and be ranked among the best prospects in the system even though his checkered health has raised hesitations about his long-term possibilities. He throws a 94-97 MPH fastball with very good location, throwing his four-seam fastball in all quadrants of the strike zone as a put-away pitch or his town-seamer down in the zone to induce contact.

Rustich's ultimate role still hangs in the balance until the organization makes a decision. However, considering he ended the 2008 season with seven starts, he will continue to straddle both roles. If he remains a starter, this is where he would rank on the list.

1. Brad Holt – Not only does Holt reach the high-90s with his plus fastball, but he delivers it with an ideal motion and terrific extension. Those tools make his heater appear even harder—if that's possible—as it catches up on batters very quickly. Additionally, his big, strong frame allows him to sustain that velocity deep into games which is why he should remain in the rotation. As noted in his scouting report, his four-seam fastball has minimal movement, but the way he gets it on top of hitters compensates for that.

\r\n \r\n\r\n10. Jeurys Familia – The 19-year-old right-hander is still learning to throw his secondary pitches, but will continue to move—and possibly at a quick rate—because of his fastball. He was on the gun at 89-91 MPH early in the Gulf Coast League season but his velocity increased and stabilized in the low-90s later in the summer and during the Instructional League season.
\r\n
\r\nHe is still working on a delivery and his rather violent arm action has caused some concern about his long-term durability, but he has so far impressed scouts with his live fastball.
\r\n
\r\n9. Elvin Ramirez – Ramirez's velocity is predicated on arm strength and while his 93-94 MPH heat would otherwise move him up this list, he is still attaining command of his hard, sinking fastball. He struggles commanding his fastball at times which led to a rather low strikeout ratio given his velocity and a walk-to-innings ratio on the higher side of average.
\r\n
\r\nThe best element to his fastball is his stamina. While young pitchers tend to see their velocity fade in late innings, Ramirez' arm strength allows him to maintain his heat later into games. However, he will need greater control of it as he moves up to remain a starter.
\r\n
\r\n8. Dillon Gee – Gee does not throw as hard as the two before him on the last, sitting 91-92 MPH, but what he makes up in one or two ticks in velocity, he compensates with impeccable control. He boasts confidence in both his two-seam and four-seam fastballs in any count because of his ability to paint the corners. He uses his fastballs to set up his secondary pitches and though he does not ring up high strikeout totals, his ability to keep hitters honest with his fastball makes it such an effective pitch and his game more successful overall.
\r\n
\r\n7. Scott Shaw – The first-year right-hander, like Gee, does not impress with his fastball velocity but rather outstanding control. Sitting 88-90 MPH during the New York-Penn League season, observers wondered if he had the velocity to maintain success at higher levels. Patience was a virtue with Shaw's fastball as he experienced a jump to 91-92 MPH during the Hawaiian Winter League.
\r\n
\r\nScouts have noted that the fastball Shaw showed off during his rookie campaign is not the same pitch they expect from him in 2009. Despite three very sound secondary pitches, it will be that added velocity that will carry him to success at higher levels. He may not light up the radar gun, but a strong arm that can consistently locate a low-90s fastballs is valuable.
\r\n
\r\n6. Eric Niesen – Niesen posted rather pedestrian numbers during his time in the Florida State League, but it is difficult to gloss over a left-hander who can hit 93 MPH on the gun. He had trouble throwing the ball by hitters last season but his trouble spawned more out of a lack of command that he had with Brooklyn in 2007. He ran into problems when his front side opened up, forcing his fastball to stay up and lose its natural running movement. When he stays closed, Niesen has much better control of the fastball and is able to maintain it low in the zone which increases its effectiveness.
\r\n
\r\n5. Nick Carr – Carr too posted subpar numbers with St. Lucie last summer but that does not diminish the fact that he possesses one of the liveliest arms in the system. He ranges from 92-95 MPH and his fastball becomes a plus pitch when his location is on point. All too often last season it appeared as if he had no idea where the ball was going when it left his hand, mainly because of mechanical issues.
\r\n
\r\nWhen Carr stays on top of his two-seam fastball, it dives late through the zone and can generate a high number of strikeouts. It is the more powerful of his two fastballs as his four-seam is more of a setup pitch. His four-seamer is a more hittable pitch as he does not generate much natural movement, but he still throws it in the low to mid-90s and is a good change of pace pitch off his breaking pitches which have a lot of movement.
\r\n
\r\n4. Bobby Parnell – Parnell struggled with his command, and specifically his fastball command, at times during the 2008 season, yet his heater is the tool that has him on the precipice of the 25-man roster. He throws a power, sinking two-seam fastball in the low-90s that can generate a high number of groundballs but also gets batters to swing over the top of it. His four-seam fastball has similar velocity but its lack of movement in comparison causes him to fall back on his two-seamer. Nonetheless, low to mid-90s velocity is why he is favorably considered for a spot in the big league bullpen.
\r\n
\r\n3. Jenrry Mejia – At 6-feet and no more than 170-pounds, one would not expect such velocity from Mejia, but he pumps in his mid-90s fastball with very good stamina. He gets good riding and sinking action on the pitch which is the key to his ability to generate such a high rate of ground balls and makes it very difficult for hitters to lift the fastball. There are some concerns as to how his smaller frame holds up over the long haul, but Mejia is built solid and showed little wear over the course of the 2008 short-season. Now the test will be how his fastball maintains during an 125 inning-plus year.
\r\n
\r\n2. Brant Rustich – Rustich has the stuff to pitch in the big leagues and be ranked among the best prospects in the system even though his checkered health has raised hesitations about his long-term possibilities. He throws a 94-97 MPH fastball with very good location, throwing his four-seam fastball in all quadrants of the strike zone as a put-away pitch or his town-seamer down in the zone to induce contact.
\r\n
\r\nRustich's ultimate role still hangs in the balance until the organization makes a decision. However, considering he ended the 2008 season with seven starts, he will continue to straddle both roles. If he remains a starter, this is where he would rank on the list.
\r\n
\r\n1. Brad Holt – Not only does Holt reach the high-90s with his plus fastball, but he delivers it with an ideal motion and terrific extension. Those tools make his heater appear even harder—if that's possible—as it catches up on batters very quickly. Additionally, his big, strong frame allows him to sustain that velocity deep into games which is why he should remain in the rotation. As noted in his scouting report, his four-seam fastball has minimal movement, but the way he gets it on top of hitters compensates for that.
\r\n
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