Tool Time: Top Fastballs - Relief Pitchers

There is nothing sexier than a relief pitcher that can bring the heat. Think Billy Wagner and Mariano Rivera – the Padres are stockpiling a number of flamethrowers in the pen and with the pen such an asset on the big league club they have extended that thought process to the minors.

1. Pascual Juan

A lefty that can dial it up to 99 MPH on the radar gun is rare and Juan fits the mold. Scouts say he has one of the fastest left-handed arms they have ever seen and there is room for improvement.

Juan sits in the 93-96 MPH range and can consistently get the ball rocking at those speeds. What he needs to work on is his first pitch strikes, staying ahead of the hitters and his secondary pitches. He is as raw as they come.

2. John Madden

No one in the system has the kind of movement on their fastball like Madden. His ball seems like it is hitting the heart of the plate before showing heavy sink.

Add in his solid secondary pitches and the different look he possesses as a side-armer and he has a deadly combination of effectiveness.

3. Andrew Brown

Acquired along with Kevin Kouzmanoff in the Josh Barfield trade, Brown is a sleeper for the big league club. He can bring the heat at 92-95 MPH and tops out at 97 MPH.

Despite twice going under the knife for his pitching elbow, Brown has regained his stuff and can overpower hitters with the gun. His hard slider also offers a supplemental strikeout pitch.

4. Alfredo Fernandez

How many players slow down their fastball when it is hitting 97 MPH on the radar gun? Fernandez did just that in an effort to gain better control of the pitch and hit his spots consistently.

The effort paid off – his fastball still hits 92-94 hitting 95 MPH and the feeling is he will gain those extra few ticks back now that he has the confidence in his game.

5. Nathan Staggs

The kid with the funky delivery has a steamer that hits 95 MPH and he isn't afraid to attack hitters with his best. The San Diego native has refined his mechanics over the course of the year and his fastball has maintained its vigor.

If he is too smooth on the mound, Staggs will lose a little off the heater but he is aggressive enough to keep the fastball his go-to baby. As his changeup rounds into shape it could be even better.

Also in consideration (alphabetical):

Paul Abraham
He has the goods, tossing the heat at 94 MPH and sitting in the low-90s on a continuous basis and the right-hander is a gamer. He is healthy for spring.

Jonathan Ellis
He gained a few ticks on the heater this season and found better command, making a solid reliever.

Arturo Lopez
Perhaps surprising, Lopez has a solid fastball and is a lefty – southpaws who can rear back and hurl get special treatment.

Jackson Quezada
He doesn't have a conventional delivery and hides his ball well but his ball also has late pop and he can run it up in the mid-90s – arm trouble this year curtailed some of his speed.

Leo Rosales
He may not light up the radar gun as well as others on this list but his secondary pitches make his fastball look nastier than it may appear.

Rolando Valdez
A former outfielder, Valdez has a cannon arm and will sit low-90s with the capability to hit 94 MPH. He is still learning to pitch but is far advanced considering his time on the mound.

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