Tool Time: Top control pitchers

There are a few things every pitching coach will preach and it begins with command. If you can't throw strikes, you simply won't progress through the minor leagues. These San Diego Padres' prospects don't have to worry about that – they are fully adept at target practice.

1. Mike Ekstrom

When the catcher sets up on the outside corner, glove outstretched slightly below the knees, Ekstrom is the one who hits it every time.

He averages a little over one walk per start and pounds the bottom half of the zone, yielding just four homers in 166.2 innings last year.

2. Brent Carter

When the lefty is on the mound you can be assured of one thing – he doesn't hit too much of the plate and can paint the corners like a master artisan.

He issues walks at a one per 8.67 innings pitched, making him the elite among Padres' prospects. The key is, and something he has been successful at, not hitting too much of the plate and making every pitch a pitcher's pitch.

3. Cesar Carrillo

Armed with electric movement and stuff, Carrillo also hammers the corners with relative ease.

Carrillo also knows when to throw a strike and when to go outside the zone for a punchout, a key element of pitching. He works the corners well and keeping the ball down is instrumental to his success.

4. Greg Burke

With one walk allowed every 7.33 innings, Burke is a master of control that pitches to contact.

There is, however, a too many strikes syndrome that Burke can fall into and with his plus slider he should be able to bury the ball in the dirt to get more outs and limit the opposition's ability to tee off on his early count pitches.

5. Manny Ayala

With a free pass issued once every 7.0 innings, Ayala kept the rock in the zone and doesn't give away at bats. He is adept at pitching to contact but will need to throw a few more balls.

His first pitch strike success is a catalyst for his success but he would do well to use his plus changeup to record more outs – and the development of his slider will be key to getting people to chase.

Also in consideration (alphabetical):

Matt Buschmann
He stays ahead in the count and buries an excellent slider to keep hitters honest.

Josh Geer
Keeps his walks down by being in the zone but can elevate some pitches.


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