Tool Time: Top Changeups

The San Diego Padres emphasize the changeup – they firmly believe, and it has been proven, that a good off-speed pitch combined with fastball command can make a pitcher dominating. These Padres' prospects have mastered the changeup.

1. Leo Rosales

There is a reason Leo Rosales has the nickname "Light's Out" and it stems from his fastball-changeup combination. Setting up the hitters with his heater, Rosales drops in his nasty changeup to get strikeouts.

While his fastball tips the scales in the low-90s, his changeup has the same appearance and comes in a slick 15 MPH slower, making it near impossible for a hitter to alter his swing in time – making Bugs Bunny look good.

2. Sean Thompson

It used to be that Thompson's best pitch was his curveball but his parachute has taken over with top billing and has hitters bailing without a safety net.

Despite having the hands of an infant (his words), Thompson learned to throw the changeup by tossing around softballs. When he came back to the changeup he found it easier to hurl and the results have been staggering.

3. R.J. Rodriguez

While a lot of pitchers are learning to throw the changeup in the San Diego system, Rodriguez pulled his from his college days and goes to it when he needs outs.

It was particularly effective this year in a closing role and most importantly – he throws the changeup for strikes in any count and at any time.

4. Manny Ayala

Having the feel for the changeup is bigger than you might believe and few have the touch of Ayala. His changeup is dirty and he will throw the slip in any count.

His confidence in the change of pace and ability to move it inside to right-handers is a huge key to success and he proved it with a stellar year in High-A – his first professional season.

5. Brent Carter

The precision of his fastball makes the changeup a critical pitch to his repertoire and Carter will throw it in any count with positive results.

His changeup is particularly effective against right-handed hitters, as they can't decipher the difference between his fastball and the slower off-speed pitch.

Also in consideration (alphabetical):

Brooks Dunn
With a fastball that tops out in the mid-80s, Dunn's changeup comes in at softball speed, making it extremely tough on hitters.

Matt Handley
He came in with a thorough understanding of the game and a changeup that induced outs regularly.

Wade LeBlanc
Blessed with an impressive changeup, he keeps it down in the zone and despite being in his first year has helped other pitchers refining the pitch.

Rolando Valdez
The converted outfielder already has a plus changeup and has only been throwing for two years. He could vault up this list.

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