Tool Time: Top Breaking Ball Hitters

Everyone has to hit the fastball to stay in professional baseball but it is those players that can also hit breaking balls that mark them as being potentially special. These San Diego Padres' prospects are adept at hitting curveballs and sliders alike.

1. Cedric Hunter

At such a young age, Hunter has command of his balance and patience. His ability to recognize pitches and not be fooled puts him in terrific shape for the future.

Hunter is rarely fooled and does not commit his swing to early. He bides his time, watching the spin of the ball, and goes into motion quickly. His ability to let those tough pitches by – the apparent strike that dips into the dirt – is well beyond his years.

2. Paul McAnulty

There is little this kid can't do at the dish and that includes staying back and waiting for a breaking pitch to take shape. He does not waste many at bats and will wait for his pitch – thus seeing more pitches lessons the chance that the pitcher will beat him.

McAnulty will lose some of that patience when he feels he has to make a play but is generally patient and there are few hangers he misses.

3. Chase Headley

With one of the better understandings of the game, Headley parlays that into knowing how he will be pitched and taking advantage of said knowledge.

He has a great eye and doesn't believe a pitcher can get the best of him. His ability to take a breaking pitch and go with the pitch rather than trying to force the issue has led to an increase in hits.

4. Javis Diaz

His stance lends to his credibility as a patient hitter that can take a pitch and shoot it opposite field or pull it down the line.

It seems that he has a better view of a pitcher and what the spin of the ball will be, allowing him to maintain his balance and go into motion at the break of the ball rather than committing too soon.

5. Chad Huffman

Huffman compact stance and short stride mean he will not get beat by many pitches. He is able to keep the weight on his back foot for a longer stretch because he is already in a natural hitting position.

Even when he commits too early he has the strength to shoot the ball into the outfield for a hit. But Huffman has a great eye and uses it to ensure he is not beating himself.

Also in consideration (alphabetical):

Matt Antonelli
Blessed with a unique ability to recognize pitches, he stays off the toughest ones and can connect on the ones that he should handle.

Peter Ciofrone
There are times when he can be caught leaning and over-balance but when he is in the zone there are few who can take breaking pitches and hammer them into the gaps like Ciofrone can.

Luis Durango
Because he has such a short swing, Durango doesn't need much time to react and that allows him to stay back and connect when the slow rollers come his way.

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