MMLN: Top Tools - Sliders

The look at pitches continues, this time running down the pitchers with the best sliders in the system. These sliders look different, are thrown at varying speeds and are used in different ways, but all are very effective pitches that lay the groundwork for success. Look inside to find who own the bet sliders in the system and how they rank.

10. Brandon Moore – The best aspect of Moore's slider is his sweeping movement. Thrown in the low-80s, Moore can make hitters uncomfortable by starting the pitch well off the plate with enough break to finish on the outside corner. Creating more consistent downward movement is pivotal for his slider as it at times breaks a bit flat which could run Moore into trouble against higher skilled hitters in the long season leagues. Once he can create that movement, Moore's slider has the potential to become a plus pitch.

9. Eric Beaulac – Beaulac features a high-70s to low-80s slider that has the possibility of becoming a plus pitch in the future. He generates good, late movement through the bottom of the zone that he can use as a put-away pitch to right-handers. That movement is also the main ingredient to Beaulac's current high strikeout ratio. His command of the pitch still has some room to grow, but its effectiveness is why, at the least, Beaulac looks like a very solid piece to the bullpen.

8. Robert Carson – Carson's slider has the potential to become a big league quality pitch. Thrown anywhere from 81-84 MPH, the left-hander generates very good break down and in to right-handed hitters. The pitch has swing-and-miss break, but he uses it more to pitch to contact and is the main reason why Carson creates an excellent ground ball ratio. He took the next steps with the slider this season, trusting it more throw inside to left-handers but is an area he will continue to work on as he moves up.

7. Eric Niesen – The effectiveness of Niesen's slider can change depending on mechanics, but when he stays on the top of the ball, the left-hander creates a sharp, sweeping movement. The diving movement can be devastating on left-handers who have difficulty squaring up and really ties up right-handers as the slider slips under their bats with its late drop. The slider loses its bite when his release point flattens out, but when on gives Niesen a legitimate strikeout pitch.

6. Kyle Allen - Allen's slider came a long way in 2009 to the point where it will soon rival his changeup as his top secondary pitch. Thrown in the low to mid-80s, Allen showed good, tight break and increasing confidence to use it as the season went on. The pitch still has room to grow, but this time last year Allen lacked all feel for a breaking pitch. The development seen this year with the slider could allow him to have a truly breakout season in 2010.

5. Scott Shaw – The slider is arguably Shaw's best pitch. Thrown in the high-70s, Shaw uses his slider with confidence and command on both sides of the plate. It has good two plane break which he uses to change a hitter's eye level off his fastball. He primarily uses his slider as the pitch to bust inside to hitters and his out-pitch. While struggling fastball command this summer, the slider became his fallback pitch and he saw no drop off in success with the pitch which speaks to its effectiveness.

4. Dylan Owen – Like Shaw, Owen relies heavily on his slider when he struggles with his fastball command. He locates his 78-82 MPH with precision and confidence, which was significant to his 2009 season as he battled fastball inconsistency for most of the season. He can mix the slider on both sides of the plate and throws it inside at will. It is undoubtedly the key to Owen's success and needed for continued success in 2010 and beyond.

3. Tobi Stoner – Stoner, like Owen, relied heavily on his slider this season as his third pitch. Though it is most often used as a third pitch, Stoner's slider has long had big league break and served as his primary weapon heading into 2009. Stoner fell in love with his slider at times early in his career, and for good reason, but now does a better job of mixing in his slider making it an even more effective pitch. He throws his slider with confidence and was rarely beat with in during his time in Buffalo.

2. Jeurys Familia – The growth of Familia's slider was another important dimension to his rapid development. He generally throws it in the high-70s with hard, late break down and away to right-handers. He did an excellent job of staying on top of the pitch which allows him to consistently pounded the bottom third of the strike zone and drop it out of the zone as a finishing pitch. In the span of one season, Familia's slider went from fringy pitch to a plus pitch with the possibility of becoming a dominant one in the future.

1. Brant Rustich – Rustich size, power and fastball velocity all standout immediately, but when the right-hander's slider is on point, it is a truly devastating pitch that can overwhelm hitters on both sides of the plate. He throws it 84-87 MPH with sharp, late movement that is a true strikeout and put-away pitch. Rustich's new approach is to pick his spots with slider and not show it before reaching a two-strike count to increase effectiveness and its finish. It is an above average big league slider right now.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n10. Brandon Moore – The best aspect of Moore's slider is his sweeping movement. Thrown in the low-80s, Moore can make hitters uncomfortable by starting the pitch well off the plate with enough break to finish on the outside corner. Creating more consistent downward movement is pivotal for his slider as it at times breaks a bit flat which could run Moore into trouble against higher skilled hitters in the long season leagues. Once he can create that movement, Moore's slider has the potential to become a plus pitch.
\r\n
\r\n9. Eric Beaulac – Beaulac features a high-70s to low-80s slider that has the possibility of becoming a plus pitch in the future. He generates good, late movement through the bottom of the zone that he can use as a put-away pitch to right-handers. That movement is also the main ingredient to Beaulac's current high strikeout ratio. His command of the pitch still has some room to grow, but its effectiveness is why, at the least, Beaulac looks like a very solid piece to the bullpen.
\r\n
\r\n8. Robert Carson – Carson's slider has the potential to become a big league quality pitch. Thrown anywhere from 81-84 MPH, the left-hander generates very good break down and in to right-handed hitters. The pitch has swing-and-miss break, but he uses it more to pitch to contact and is the main reason why Carson creates an excellent ground ball ratio. He took the next steps with the slider this season, trusting it more throw inside to left-handers but is an area he will continue to work on as he moves up.
\r\n
\r\n7. Eric Niesen – The effectiveness of Niesen's slider can change depending on mechanics, but when he stays on the top of the ball, the left-hander creates a sharp, sweeping movement. The diving movement can be devastating on left-handers who have difficulty squaring up and really ties up right-handers as the slider slips under their bats with its late drop. The slider loses its bite when his release point flattens out, but when on gives Niesen a legitimate strikeout pitch.
\r\n
\r\n6. Kyle Allen - Allen's slider came a long way in 2009 to the point where it will soon rival his changeup as his top secondary pitch. Thrown in the low to mid-80s, Allen showed good, tight break and increasing confidence to use it as the season went on. The pitch still has room to grow, but this time last year Allen lacked all feel for a breaking pitch. The development seen this year with the slider could allow him to have a truly breakout season in 2010.
\r\n
\r\n5. Scott Shaw – The slider is arguably Shaw's best pitch. Thrown in the high-70s, Shaw uses his slider with confidence and command on both sides of the plate. It has good two plane break which he uses to change a hitter's eye level off his fastball. He primarily uses his slider as the pitch to bust inside to hitters and his out-pitch. While struggling fastball command this summer, the slider became his fallback pitch and he saw no drop off in success with the pitch which speaks to its effectiveness.
\r\n
\r\n4. Dylan Owen – Like Shaw, Owen relies heavily on his slider when he struggles with his fastball command. He locates his 78-82 MPH with precision and confidence, which was significant to his 2009 season as he battled fastball inconsistency for most of the season. He can mix the slider on both sides of the plate and throws it inside at will. It is undoubtedly the key to Owen's success and needed for continued success in 2010 and beyond.
\r\n
\r\n3. Tobi Stoner – Stoner, like Owen, relied heavily on his slider this season as his third pitch. Though it is most often used as a third pitch, Stoner's slider has long had big league break and served as his primary weapon heading into 2009. Stoner fell in love with his slider at times early in his career, and for good reason, but now does a better job of mixing in his slider making it an even more effective pitch. He throws his slider with confidence and was rarely beat with in during his time in Buffalo.
\r\n
\r\n2. Jeurys Familia – The growth of Familia's slider was another important dimension to his rapid development. He generally throws it in the high-70s with hard, late break down and away to right-handers. He did an excellent job of staying on top of the pitch which allows him to consistently pounded the bottom third of the strike zone and drop it out of the zone as a finishing pitch. In the span of one season, Familia's slider went from fringy pitch to a plus pitch with the possibility of becoming a dominant one in the future.
\r\n
\r\n1. Brant Rustich – Rustich size, power and fastball velocity all standout immediately, but when the right-hander's slider is on point, it is a truly devastating pitch that can overwhelm hitters on both sides of the plate. He throws it 84-87 MPH with sharp, late movement that is a true strikeout and put-away pitch. Rustich's new approach is to pick his spots with slider and not show it before reaching a two-strike count to increase effectiveness and its finish. It is an above average big league slider right now.
\r\n
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