MMLN: Top Tools – Fastballs for Starters

Over the past three seasons, the organization has added a number of big, live arms to the talent pool. Many of which have propelled themselves up the depth chart on the heels of their fastballs. Though each has a different arsenal to back up their heaters, those on this list can always rely on ole number one as a foundation for success.

10. Kyle Allen – Allen's velocity varied at times during the season. That depended on what kind of fastball and what kind of approach Allen went for. There were times when he would ratchet up his fastball in order to get it by hitters and would touch 91-92 MPH. However, as the season went on, Allen settled down with his fastball and began to rely more on pacing, location and movement. He dialed down the fastball by one or two ticks, accentuating the running action on his two-seam fastball. Once the right-hander learned fastball success can be achieved through effectiveness and not so much velocity, his game took off.

9. Eric Beaulac – The right-hander's fastball can be tough to pick up at times. Given his height, extension and the fact that he sits 90-91 MPH, though he can touch 93 at times, his heater can jump on batters. He needs to improve his command of the pitch but effectively moves it around the strike zone which often prevents hitters from squaring it up. Perhaps the best element to his fastball is the stamina he has shown despite a tall, lean frame.

8. Eric Niesen – Niesen's velocity was all over the map at times this year. There were stretches in St. Lucie where he was only high-80s, but other times in Binghamton where he got to 91-92 MPH. That is due to a low three-quarters arm slot which, when off, can cause his fastball to lose its pop, though it retains its movement. When he stays on top of the fastball he can generates better running action away from right-handers. He gets rather consistent movement despite a cross-body finish and a noisy delivery.

7. Ryan Coultas – Coultas' 91-93 MPH does not have much movement aside from a slight fade. However, he aids its effectiveness by not showing the ball until the last moment and a snap release which causes the ball to get on the hitter very quickly. Those traits allowed him to generate a high amount of swings and misses in Double-A in his first season as a starter. Coultas did not often make it into the sixth inning during his 11 starts in 2009, but nonetheless, his fastball showed staying power as he remained 91-92 MPH in his second and third time through the order.

6. Armando Rodriguez – Rodriguez impressed with his lively fastball during his stint in Kingsport and it has continued on into Instructs. Rodriguez was hitting 94 MPH routinely during the season with solid running action down and in to right-handers. Now it is a matter of building command as he will not as easily blow it by advanced hitters in higher levels. Combine his size and strength and Rodriguez, who will be 22 years old by spring, has given cause for excitement.

5. Jeurys Familia – Not often does a young pitcher undergo such a jump in velocity from year to year, but this right-hander did exactly that. At this time last season Familia sat 90-91 with his four seam (though he sporadically hit 93), but half way into the 2009 season he experienced a jump in his velocity. By then Familia was sitting 92-94 MPH with good, late running action He also developed a nascent cutter in the high-80s which he using to both hitters. Not only the velocity, but the command of his fastball led to quick outs and the ability to attack hitters, characteristics which led to a surge in his overall development.

4. Nick Carr – Carr could arguably be higher on this list given the heat he brings to the mound. With a fastball that was clocked as high as 97 MPH, Carr has the look of a formidable bullpen arm. However, what keeps him in this spot in lack of movement and at times spotty command. He can blow it by hitters simply on velocity alone, but his heater was pretty much straight this season. As a full-time starter in 2008, Carr used a two-seam fastball, but used the pitch much less frequently upon taking a piggyback role this season.

3. Brant Rustich – As mentioned in the recent feature on Rustich, the big right-hander was still hitting his expected velocity despite continued arm trouble. His fastball got up to 95-96 MPH this year though he sat mostly 93 MPH. He generates both running and cutting action. He has received his chances as a starter, but his fastball—tied with his slider—gives him a much better profile as a reliever, a role where his fastball is even stronger.

2. Brad Holt – Holt's struggles are well-documented and it tied into this fastball. During this summer's lull, his fastball fell back to 91-92 MPH the second time through the order. When going right and when properly finishing his pitches, Holt can sit 94-95 MPH and this season picked up running action in to right-handed batters. He can throw it by hitters up and down in the zone, effectively changing eye levels and taking away a comfort zone in the box.

1. Jenrry Mejia – Mejia is in the running for the organization's top pitching prospect (Note: to be revealed November 10th with the release of the Top 50) because of his fastball. He sits 93-96 MPH and can at times touch even higher with excellent running and cutting action. Most importantly, he continues to show durability and stamina by maintaining his velocity deeper into starts. Reports that he is hitting the same velocity in the Arizona Fall League further cement his position as the Mets prospect with the best fastball.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n10. Kyle Allen – Allen's velocity varied at times during the season. That depended on what kind of fastball and what kind of approach Allen went for. There were times when he would ratchet up his fastball in order to get it by hitters and would touch 91-92 MPH. However, as the season went on, Allen settled down with his fastball and began to rely more on pacing, location and movement. He dialed down the fastball by one or two ticks, accentuating the running action on his two-seam fastball. Once the right-hander learned fastball success can be achieved through effectiveness and not so much velocity, his game took off.
\r\n
\r\n9. Eric Beaulac – The right-hander's fastball can be tough to pick up at times. Given his height, extension and the fact that he sits 90-91 MPH, though he can touch 93 at times, his heater can jump on batters. He needs to improve his command of the pitch but effectively moves it around the strike zone which often prevents hitters from squaring it up. Perhaps the best element to his fastball is the stamina he has shown despite a tall, lean frame.
\r\n
\r\n8. Eric Niesen – Niesen's velocity was all over the map at times this year. There were stretches in St. Lucie where he was only high-80s, but other times in Binghamton where he got to 91-92 MPH. That is due to a low three-quarters arm slot which, when off, can cause his fastball to lose its pop, though it retains its movement. When he stays on top of the fastball he can generates better running action away from right-handers. He gets rather consistent movement despite a cross-body finish and a noisy delivery.
\r\n
\r\n7. Ryan Coultas – Coultas' 91-93 MPH does not have much movement aside from a slight fade. However, he aids its effectiveness by not showing the ball until the last moment and a snap release which causes the ball to get on the hitter very quickly. Those traits allowed him to generate a high amount of swings and misses in Double-A in his first season as a starter. Coultas did not often make it into the sixth inning during his 11 starts in 2009, but nonetheless, his fastball showed staying power as he remained 91-92 MPH in his second and third time through the order.
\r\n
\r\n6. Armando Rodriguez – Rodriguez impressed with his lively fastball during his stint in Kingsport and it has continued on into Instructs. Rodriguez was hitting 94 MPH routinely during the season with solid running action down and in to right-handers. Now it is a matter of building command as he will not as easily blow it by advanced hitters in higher levels. Combine his size and strength and Rodriguez, who will be 22 years old by spring, has given cause for excitement.
\r\n
\r\n5. Jeurys Familia – Not often does a young pitcher undergo such a jump in velocity from year to year, but this right-hander did exactly that. At this time last season Familia sat 90-91 with his four seam (though he sporadically hit 93), but half way into the 2009 season he experienced a jump in his velocity. By then Familia was sitting 92-94 MPH with good, late running action He also developed a nascent cutter in the high-80s which he using to both hitters. Not only the velocity, but the command of his fastball led to quick outs and the ability to attack hitters, characteristics which led to a surge in his overall development.
\r\n
\r\n4. Nick Carr – Carr could arguably be higher on this list given the heat he brings to the mound. With a fastball that was clocked as high as 97 MPH, Carr has the look of a formidable bullpen arm. However, what keeps him in this spot in lack of movement and at times spotty command. He can blow it by hitters simply on velocity alone, but his heater was pretty much straight this season. As a full-time starter in 2008, Carr used a two-seam fastball, but used the pitch much less frequently upon taking a piggyback role this season.
\r\n
\r\n3. Brant Rustich – As mentioned in the recent feature on Rustich, the big right-hander was still hitting his expected velocity despite continued arm trouble. His fastball got up to 95-96 MPH this year though he sat mostly 93 MPH. He generates both running and cutting action. He has received his chances as a starter, but his fastball—tied with his slider—gives him a much better profile as a reliever, a role where his fastball is even stronger.
\r\n
\r\n2. Brad Holt – Holt's struggles are well-documented and it tied into this fastball. During this summer's lull, his fastball fell back to 91-92 MPH the second time through the order. When going right and when properly finishing his pitches, Holt can sit 94-95 MPH and this season picked up running action in to right-handed batters. He can throw it by hitters up and down in the zone, effectively changing eye levels and taking away a comfort zone in the box.
\r\n
\r\n1. Jenrry Mejia – Mejia is in the running for the organization's top pitching prospect (Note: to be revealed November 10th with the release of the Top 50) because of his fastball. He sits 93-96 MPH and can at times touch even higher with excellent running and cutting action. Most importantly, he continues to show durability and stamina by maintaining his velocity deeper into starts. Reports that he is hitting the same velocity in the Arizona Fall League further cement his position as the Mets prospect with the best fastball.
\r\n
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