PBN Tool Box: Pitchers

Philly Baseball News takes a look at what tools pitchers in the Phillies organization use to get hitters out. Who has the best fastball, curveball or the best overall control? You'll find out here!

Fastball: There is no debating this one. Carlos Carrasco has the best fastball in the Phillies system. It's the type of pitch that hitters know is coming, but it just doesn't matter, because it's not easy to get their bat on. The key for Carrasco's fastball isn't just the movement that he gets on it, but how late in the ball's flight the movement hits. Imagine reaching for a beer and just as the cold from the bottle touches your finger tips, the bottle drops down just out of your reach; that's what hitting a Carlos Carrasco fastball is like. This past season, Carrasco had his fastball at about 93 MPH and that's really enough, thanks to the movement and control that he has with the pitch. He'll work hitters inside, outside, up and down simply by dancing his fastball just above, below or wide of the swing of their bat. We should mention too, that Carrasco is capable of occasionally putting a couple extra MPH on his fastball in key spots.

If you want a fastball with just a little more pop on it, look to Josh Outman. Throwing in the mid-90s, Outman also has good movement on the pitch, but it's not as late in the flight path as Carrasco's. Outman and the Phillies reworked his delivery and the result was a near immediate improvement of his fastball, without any loss of control of the pitch. Prior to the mechanical changes, Outman relied more heavily on simply using location to get hitters out. Now, he still has the location, but he's added a couple more MPH to the pitch and a little more movement. The improved fastball is the reason why Outman put himself so squarely on the prospect radar this past season.

Joe Savery has perhaps one of the most basic, but yet effective, fastballs in the system. The best thing about Savery's fastball is that he can change speeds with it to the point where it's not quite a changeup, but it's not always at the same speed. At times, Savery showed a 94 MPH fastball, but was generally a few MPH under that, throwing right around the 90 MPH mark at Williamsport. At times though, Savery drops the velocity down even as far as the mid-80s and still gets hitters out. There's nothing real fancy about his fastball, it's just a good, old-fashioned fastball that gets hitters out.

For the pure speed enthusiasts out there, you have to like Kyle Drabek. The 20 year old right-hander easily hits the mid-90s and usually throws around 97 MPH. Of course, he did blow out his arm last season, leaving all to wonder if every bit of his velocity will return when he makes it back to the mound.

Changeup: A good changeup can make an average fastball look much better than it is. Or, it can make a really good fastball even more menacing. Such is the case for Carlos Carrasco. His changeup has developed by leaps and bounds and he's learned to disguise the pitch very well. Using the same arm speed and release point that he does on his fastball, the changeup keeps hitters guessing and thanks to the way that Carrasco has learned to use the pitch in almost any situation, hitters can't sit on a fastball.

Josh Outman's changeup has gotten to be so good, that he stopped throwing his curve last summer and used a fastball, changeup and slider to get hitters out. If Outman were an average pitcher, he wouldn't be able to get by on just three pitches, but he's not an average pitcher and mixing his three offerings keeps him out of trouble.

Curveball: You have to wonder if it's still going to be there after he returns from an elbow injury, but there was no better curveball in the system than the one thrown by Kyle Drabek. In fact, some scouts believe that the best and most effective pitch in the system was Drabek's curve. He generally floats it up there in the upper-70s, which is a far cry from his high velocity fastball, and he always throws it with a constant downward bite that is hard to catch up to. Willie Stargell once said that hitting Steve Carlton's slider was like eating soup with a fork and Drabek's curve has been known to leave hitters in much the same situation.

If you're watching for a guy who will show an improving curveball, again, look to Carlos Carrasco. The Phillies have worked with Carrasco to improve his curve - as if he needs another pitch - and he's gotten more consistent with it and is gaining more and more confidence in the pitch as he continues to develop.

Slider: Josh Outman throws his slider in the 84 MPH range and hitters simply can't touch it with any regularity. Substituting his slider for a curveball, Outman has found that he is a better pitcher without trying to mess around with a curve that simply wasn't very effective, he instead goes right after hitters and just substitutes the slider. One thing that scouts love about Outman is that he has gotten his mechanics to the point where he doesn't tip any of his pitches and hitters can't tell what pitch is coming simply by watching for a different arm speed or release point. If more pitchers could get that part of pitching down, there would be a lot more good pitchers.

Drew Carpenter throws a slider that is getting much better and he throws it on a hard downhill plane, making it a pitch that often finds itself bouncing off a bat only to smack a worm on the head. Carpenter has some developing to do and has to gain consistency with all of his pitches, but with a weak changeup and an average curve, the slider is probably the most important one for him to develop if he's going to have continued success.

Best control: Again, he's not the most consistent pitcher in the organization, but when he's on, Drew Carpenter has the best control of any Phillies minor leaguer. Everything stays down in the strike zone and he locates it in and out on hitters to keep them from digging in on him. If he gets a consistent groove with his mechanics and loosens up a little on the mound, Carpenter will likely improve on all his pitches and hopefully, keep the control that he's shown so far in his career. He's where Carlos Carrasco was two years ago and where Josh Outman was at this time last year. It will all depend on how he adapts and develops over the next season or two.

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