Tool Time: Top Fastballs for Starters

The fastball. Velocity is only one part of the equation. The ability to spot the fastball up at different locations on the black and off is just as vital. It doesn't matter if you throw 100 mph if it can't be thrown over the dish. These San Diego Padres prospects bring the heat.

Mat Latos

While an oblique injury took away much of his season, Latos' fastball is explosive and sets up the rest of his pitches. As far as pure power goes, Latos tops them all.

Latos throws his cheddar in the mid-90s with control and can reach as high as 97-98 mph. On top of that, he controls the pitch well, making his secondary pitches more deadly.

Simon Castro

Armed with a fastball that can reach the mid-90s and touches 96-97 mph, Castro is a tough man to face, especially now that his heater is being thrown over the dish more consistently.

Taking steps from last year, his accuracy has improved and the establishment of his secondary pitches has pushed the express to a new level of effectiveness.

Wynn Pelzer

With a low-90s fastball that touches 94-95 mph, Pelzer pounds the zone religiously. Upping the ante, his ball has late life down in the zone.

Pelzer has a quality assortment of pitches that makes dead red a key part of his arsenal. He can pitch backwards or forwards to keep hitters guessing and is able to throw the fastball inside effectively.

Cesar Carrillo

Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Carrillo's velocity slowly climbed back to the days of yore. By the end of the year, Carrillo was again hitting 94 mph – although not as consistently as he had in the past.

The gas Carrillo has is enhanced by its darting movement down in the zone. Not only does he have plus velocity, it changes hitter's eye levels with its late life. His command will return.

Jeremy McBryde

His velocity may have dipped slightly but his control of the two-seamer has increased tenfold. No longer pitching from behind, McBryde can get to his secondary pitches – making him more efficient.

McBryde tosses the cheddar in the low-90s and touches 94 mph. As his changeup has improved, so has the fastball. Able to locate it on the corners, McBryde's fastball is a key element to hi success.

Honorable Mention:

Anthony Bass

Moving into the starting rotation will be in the cards for Bass and his low-90s heater. His funky delivery and an ability to hit his spots give hitters a tough time locating the ball.

Drew Miller

Miller's big bugaboo has been the ability to spot his mid-90s at will. He will catch too much of the plate with the fastball. At the professional level, hitters are able to catch up to one thrown down the middle of the dish.

Ernesto Frieri

Firing off the smoke ball in the low-90s, Frieri hits 95 mph and has vastly improved its control. With late pop, the fastball appears even faster than it is.

Pablo Menchaca

With an easy delivery, Menchaca looks like he is playing catch with a teammate. His blazer is of the low-90s variety and there is more in the tank. He could jump up on the list if he uses the rest of his body to throw.

Cory Luebke

Armed with a low-90s fogger that touches 94 mph, Luebke caught too much of the dish this past year, dropping him a notch. A left-hander with a power fastball, however, is tough to find.

Josh Geer

He doesn't have near the velocity of other pitchers but his ability to throw it to the corners and keep it from getting tattooed is uncanny.

Rolando Valdez

Able to hit 94 mph with old number one, the right-hander locates it well. Combined with a plus changeup, Valdez has a potent combination to keep hitters off-balance.

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