Tool Time: Top Fastball for Relievers

Relievers who throw gas are coveted across the baseball landscape. Being able to spot the pitch while keeping hitters on their toes by moving it around is wanted everywhere. These San Diego Padres relief prospects have the goods.

Ivan Nova

A Rule 5 Draft selection, Nova immediately went to the top of the heap with his dueling fastalls. He has excellent command of his four-seamer and his two-seamer has become a plus pitch over the last year.

With both a four-seamer that reaches 95 mph and has projection because of his loose arm and easy delivery and a two-seamer that has darting movement, Nova has an impressive arsenal that gets ground balls and can miss bats.

Wilton Lopez

A heavy sinking fastball with late life that darts to the lower portions of the zone, Lopez is a groundball machine. Hitters have a tough time generating lift and making solid contact.

Hitting the mid-90s with his steamer, Lopez ball has natural movement that may not generate a lot of strikeouts but does the job by getting outs.

Bryan Oland

A pumper that is thrown in the low-90s and hits 94 mph, Oland commands the ball to both sides of the dish and isn't afraid to throw inside.

Attacking hitters with the fastball, Oland sets up hitters well and can elevate the pitch to get batters chasing outside of the zone and around the eyes. Pinpoint control separates him from the pack.

Mike DeMark

The right-hander has a deceptive delivery to go with a low-90s fastball that reaches 94-95 mph. With the ball coming out of his shirt, hitters have a tough time picking it up.

Pumping the gas with precision, hitting his spots and working ahead in the count, DeMark can go to any pitch to put hitters away. Everything works off fastball command.

Jackson Quezada

Putting the cheddar in the lower quadrants and the ability to hit 95 mph while sitting in the low-90s has the closer blowing away the competition.

Quezada trusts his stuff and throws each pitch with confidence. His closer mentality and faith that hitters can't beat him gives him an edge, particularly as he pounds the ball down at the knees.

Honorable Mention:

Greg Burke

An intensive offseason conditioning program pushed his velocity up several ticks, pushing it to 92-93 mph. His ability to throw it for strikes consistently, however, is the real difference. Burke spots his fastball on the corners and doesn't allow hitters to get solid wood on his pitches, working in and out to keep them off-balance. While he may not have the velocity of others, his location impresses.

Brandon Gomes

A huge jump in velocity accompanied Gomes in his second season, pushing a high-80s fastball up to 93-94 mph. With a decreased margin for error, Gomes proved to be a valuable arm out of the pen.

Evan Scribner

Coming over in a trade with Arizona, Scribner pumped his low-90s fastball with accuracy and intent. He doesn't fall behind in many counts and the fastball is his main tool.

Gary Poynter

Cleaning up mechanics in an effort to produce more strikes will make Poynter a factor in the coming years, as his mid-90s fastball has the potential to be deadly.

Aaron Breit Armed with a low-90s fastball, Breit has suffered confidence issues that have taken away from his command. When he spots his fastball, Breit's overall arsenal is improved.

Tyson Bagley

Able to dial the cheddar up to 94-95 mph, Bagley has some mechanical issues that take away from his overall command. Being able to repeat his delivery and work on a downhill plane will be big heading into '09.

Alexis Lara

An unorthodox delivery and low-90s fastball is a solid combination to see success. Lara's ball comes out of his shirt, making it tough for hitters to key on. Command must improve.

Pascual Juan

If velocity alone were all that matters, Juan – a southpaw – would be the king, as he can hit 98 mph. Being able to throw it over, however, has been a struggle for this raw arm that may be running out of chances.

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