Tool Time: Top Curveballs

Dropping the hammer on a hitter can have devastating effects. The knees buckle, the bat head waves fleetingly, the pitch drops and moves across the zone. A quality curveball can spin hitters into the ground. These San Diego Padres prospects have the hook to get it done.

Stephen Faris

The spin Faris puts on his curveball gives it terrific topspin and downward action. An over the top 12-to-6 breaking pitch, Faris sends hitters back to the dugout shaking their heads.

With fine fastball control, Faris sets up the pitch as a change of pace, flipping the hook with solid separation in velocity. If Faris can mix in the changeup, the curveball would become even more effective.

Gabe DeHoyos

An exaggerated drop with his curveball gives hitters fits. A true 12-to-6 that comes in 25 mph slower than his fastball, DeHoyos can drop the bender in for strikes or pound it into the dirt.

Add in deception in his delivery and the right-hander gets plent of swings-and-misses with the curveball. The spin of his ball makes for a tremendous drop and it begins as soon as he releases the ball.

Will Inman

Able to create separation between his fastball and curveball makes the hammer even more effective. Its late drop out of the zone causes hitters to swing over top.

With a deceptive delivery that has a lot of moving parts, Inman can use the pretzel to spin hitters around and keep them off-balance.

Nathan Culp

Armed with a 1-7 curveball that acts like a slurve, Culp's Uncle Charlie has hitters begging for a reprieve. Because he has such fine control of all of his pitches, Culp can keep hitters off-balance with the use of his hammer.

Because his ball moves down and away to left-handers, he sets it up by working inside to open up the outside corner. With four pitches he throws for strikes, Culp brings the curveball in to finish the job.

John Hussey

When healthy, Hussey's yakker is among the best in the system. It has late breaking action that dives down and away from a right-hander.

With two-plane action, Hussey gets hitters to roll over on the offering and hit weak ground balls. Its ability to snap out of the zone makes it an effective ground ball pitch. He does need to use it more.

Honorable Mention:

Ivan Nova

A once loopy breaking ball that he had trouble commanding has now become an out-pitch that Nova can throw down in the zone from the same release point.

Aaron Breit

A slow-breaking optical illusion, Breit's curveball has significant velocity variation between it and his fastball. Because it takes breaks early and often, hitters can't time it well.

Evan Scribner

Coming right after hitters early in the count sets up the number-two to get outs. He uses it as a strikeout pitch and can throw it for strikes just as easily as dropping it out of the zone for a swinging strikeout.

Erik Davis

The Stanford alumnus could see his curveball improve with an off-season of rest – bad news for hitters. He pitches it to contact and uses it as a pitch that gets ground balls, but it may turn out to be a deadly weapon when the rest of his stuff catches up.

Jose DePaula

The left-hander has a mean bitting curveball that has 12-to-6 action. It is an early breaker that continues to drop as it closes in on the mitt. He does need to use it to expand the zone a tad more, making it even more deadly as an out-pitch.

Rob Musgrave

The hammer from Musgrave is used to setup his changeup. He throws the curveball for strikes in any count and startles hitters with his knack for throwing it for a first-pitch strike. Never knowing when they will see it, he confuses the opposition routinely.

Michael Watt

Acquired as part of the Greg Maddux trade, Watt has a fish-hook that can break knees. He starts it off at eye level and it breaks all the way to the knee, making it tough for a hitter to sit back on and time.

Pedro Martinez

The left-hander has a tough time going to his curveball because of lack of fastball command but the converted position player could see it become a devastating pitch as his location improves. It can be that good.

Gary Poynter

Poynter features a hard breaking curveball with biting action right before it hits the zone. As his mechanics improved along with his efficiency, the tight spin of his hammer became evident. It is the perfect compliment to his hard fastball.

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