Tool Time: Top Curveballs

You have seen it before. A hitters expect fastball and the pretzel comes in, twisting the batter's knees and facial expression, as they fall out of the batter's box only to hear the ump call, ‘Strike!' These San Diego Padres prospects have the best curveballs.

Dirk Hayhurst

Batters routinely buckle when Hayhurst sends Uncle Charlie to do the talking. Knees crack and backs break as hitters scramble to get out of the way.

Hayhurst comes out of a compact delivery to spin a tight curveball that has Barry Zito like action dropping in from the heavens for a strike. It is a go-to pitch that hitters can't seem to find a beat on.

John Hussey

The WWF would be proud of the way Hussey can lay the hammer down. A loopy pitch that has 12-to-6 action, the right-handed Australian has solid command of the pitch – throwing it for a strike when needed while also getting it to fall below the knees for a swinging strike.

What he lacked in 2007 was confidence in the pitch, despite its solid movement and his ability to throw it for strikes in off-counts.

Jose Oyervidez

A tight spin on his pretzel makes it a tough pitch for hitters to get any mustard on. Its quick dropping action makes it a true weapon when he is behind in the count and a strikeout pitch when he is ahead.

Inconsistent command of the pitch is the only thing holding him back. He has trouble locating the pitch within the strike zone on a consistent basis and hitters are able to lay off the deuce in hopes of a fastball the next time around.

Andy Underwood

When his mechanics are consistent and his arm angle stays elevated, Underwood can drop a heavy bender that hitters double-clutch on – tapping their feet multiple times as they wait for the pitch to reach home.

His ability to throw it for strikes makes it a bread-and-butter pitch for the right-hander and its success ties closely to his on a game-by-game basis.

Nathan Culp

His wicked fish hook gets the opposition rolling over without a reel. Its action down and to the right gives hitters fits and they have a tough time getting the pitch elevated.

With a fine arsenal of pitches at his disposal, Culp is very selective in using the curveball as an out pitch or must-strike pitch. When he needs to, he can also bury the pitch to get hitters reaching outside of their comfort zone.

Honorable mention:

Matt Bush

While his curveball is more of a slurve, it has a devastating effect on the opposition. With his plus fastball, Bush is able to toss in the hook and hitters often sink.

Chris Perez

Abandoning the slider in favor of a hook, Perez is just getting its command and feel down. It has the potential to be a plus pitch with its loopy action.

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