Blake Eager: Eager has had a solid career with the Mets, going 16-10 with a 3.77 ERA and posting nearly a four to one strikeout-to-walk ratio, mostly on the strength of his sweeping curveball that averages 73-76 MPH. He struck out eight or more batters in three of his starts with the St. Lucie Mets last year and it's because his breaking ball is getting a lot movement on those particular nights.
Blake McGinley: A bit of a rarity these days, McGinley is a backwards pitcher coming out of the bullpen. He uses a big sweeping curveball in the 70-74 MPH range and it not only ranks as his second best pitch, but one of the better curveballs in the farm system.
Top Ten Curveballs
10) Jose Sanchez: Sanchez is often overlooked in the Mets organization because he doesn't have the blazing fastball. While he only sits in the upper-80's to low-90's with his heater, he does have a full compliment of pitches, including a good curveball that sits in the 74-76 MPH range with good movement.
9) Todd Privett: As is the case with most of the lefties in the Mets farm system with good curveballs, Privett throws his slow curve in the 70-73 MPH and it serves as his main strikeout pitch. With the movement he's able to generate with it, he could rank higher on this list, but inconsistent location of his curve is his downfall. If he can command it a bit better as he continues to develop, he could move up quite a bit.
8) Scott Hyde: Even though he hasn't pitched in the last two seasons after Tommy John surgery, when healthy, Hyde has one of the better breaking balls in the organization. It has late-breaking action, it is both very sharp and very hard, and he throws it in the 78-82 MPH range. It is clearly his best pitch and the Mets are hoping he can resurrect his great breaking ball in 2007.
7) Julio Polanco: Like his Kingsport teammate Todd Privett last season, Polanco has the makings of a tremendous curveball. The small lefty gets a lot of breaking action on his slow curveball that sits 71-74 MPH. When it's on, it can be quite unhittable. But just like Privett, he can be very inconsistent with his command of the curve. His curveball is the primary reason why he had more success against right-handed batters than lefties last year.
6) Michael Devaney: Devaney not only has the distinction of throwing a good curveball, but he also has the dubious honor of throwing the slowest. Armed with a slow looping curveball mostly in the 65-68 MPH range, he has been working hard to improve his velocity with his curve. It will often times sweep around the plate and he'll need to sharpen the curve for it to be a plus pitch for him at the higher levels, but it is certainly fun to watch.
5) Tobi Stoner: A legitimate four-pitch hurler with quality big league stuff, Stoner tends to favor his hard-biting curveball as his primary strikeout pitch. Sitting mostly in the 74-78 MPH range, he has the ability to spot it at will and will throw it in any count and in any situation. His advanced curveball is one the reasons some scouts believe he could move quickly up the minor league ladder.
4) Jeff Landing: A forgotten man of sorts after a so-so season in Hagerstown last season, going just 6-11 with a 4.70 ERA, Landing actually has one of the better curveballs in the farm system. Averaging 77-80 MPH, his velocity and movement ranks up there with the best breaking balls the system has to offer. However, inexplicably, a lack of confidence in his breaking ball will lead to inconsistent command of it at times.
3) Robert Paulk: While there are pitchers with more effective curveballs than Paulk, none of them are as exciting to watch. He is known for his big looping curveballs in the 75-78 MPH range that drop right over the plate. His curveball also gets a bit of tailing action, diving away from right-handed batters and in on lefties and it serves as his main strikeout pitch. Paulk's plus curveball is the main reason that he went from the NY-Penn League all the way to Triple-A in one calendar year last season.
2) Jonathon Niese: Niese has skyrocketed up the prospect rankings on the strength of his Barry Zito-like curveball. Like Zito, Niese gets a ton of breaking action on it and sweeps it right over the plate to neutralize right-handed batters. And just like Zito, he throws an extremely slow curveball that sits 68-72 MPH. He actually throws a slower curveball earlier in the count to get ahead and harder one later in the count when he's looking for the strikeout.
1) Philip Humber: Even before being drafted by the Mets with the third overall pick back in 2004, the reputation of Humber's big-time curveball preceded him. The former Rice University standout throws a power curveball in the 78-81 MPH range and instead of getting the normal 12 to 6 action on it, it breaks more like 11 to 5 and it bends many knees at the plate. Any questions about the ramifications of Tommy John surgery on his curveball were put to rest upon his return last season when he once again displayed a top-notch hammer curve.
Tool Time: Top Ten Curveballs
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