Tool Time: Top Breaking Ball Hitters

The focus of most hitters is on the fastball. Sitting dead-red and laying off the tough breaking ball can help the average. Being proficient in hitting the breaking ball and off-speed pitches, however, becomes more important the higher one goes. These San Diego Padres prospects are the best at plying that trade.

Luis Durango

With one of the shortest swings in the game, Durango doesn't need a lot of time to react to the pitch, allowing him to wait on the break of the pitch before committing.

Because of his plate coverage, Durango can slap balls the other way on balls on the outer half with late break and do the same on pitches on the inner half. While he could pull a few more, there is no debating his ability to hit the breaking ball.

Cedric Hunter

A breaking ball is hit with the eyes. Being able to quickly pick up the spin of the ball, recognizing the break, focusing on the movement. Hunter does them all well.

He has the ability to sit back on the pitch, let the ball travel deep and get short, compact swings on the ball. With his impeccable hand-eye coordination, Hunter can hit breaking balls better than most.

Kyle Blanks

Command of his balance and patience allows Blanks to sit back on the off-speed pitches and still connect with good wood.

Blanks doesn't get fooled often, despite his power-hitting persona, and doesn't commit too early. That gives him the chance to be a terrific high average hitter with considerable power.

Eric Sogard

Strong balance and compact hitting mechanics mean Sogard won't be beat by many pitches. Being in a strong hitting position means he can pull balls or go the other way at a moments notice.

With excellent pitch recognition, Sogard can stay back on the ball to allow the breaking ball to take shape. His bat control comes into play next, as he does not dive out but maintains a consistent approach to put bat to ball.

Jaff Decker

A great eye and an unwillingness to give him allow Decker to hit the bet breaking balls. His unique batting stance also gives him a clear view of the pitch and its potential break.

Because he does not go outside of his zone, Decker can wait until the ball is in his hitting zone before releasing his trigger. With a stroke that stays level through the zone, he has maximum coverage to connect on the tough pitches.

Honorable Mention:

Dan Robertson

Blessed with a unique ability to recognize pitches, he stays off the toughest ones and can connect on the ones that he should handle.

Peter Ciofrone

A solid foundation and approach are the key components of his ability to hit the breaking ball. Because of his clean mechanics, Ciofrone can do damage with off-speed pitches and breaking balls alike.

Brad Chalk

An opposite field approach that has him sitting back on the ball and shooting the rock the other way allows Chalk to wait on the breaking ball and see success.

Jose Lobaton

Perhaps his catching skills give him an edge in the batter's box, as Lobaton is able to follow the path of breaking pitches and connect on the tough pitches in and out of the zone.

Kellen Kulbacki

Surprisingly, Kulbacki is a very good breaking ball hitter. As teams became hesitant to throw him fastballs, Kulbacki would make them pay for throwing off-speed pitches in his hitting zone – sending them over the wall with regularity.

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